What’s up with Food Fraud?

I try every week to look for topics that seem like they could blur the food safety line.  This topic really tops the charts when it comes to trying to throw people for a loop.

When thinking of food fraud, I was under the impression that it was just companies marketing their products as something they are not.  When reading further into it, I found out that food fraud is technically “a collective term used to encompass the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering, or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients, or food packaging; or false or misleading statements made about a product, for economic gain.” – Yikes.

We are all aware of the typical sticks and wood used as fillers for ground coffee, who knows what in crushed black pepper and what we think is honey.  It’s scary to think that there is so much more to consider when it comes to food fraud.

So basically creating false documentation and claiming that you are certified to a standard, would be food fraud.  Another example would be a juice company adding clouding agents to make them look “fresh squeezed.” Yeah, no thanks.

Another example would be if a disgruntled employee were to adulterate the food by adding something such as nuts to a nut free production line. People do this to get the company in trouble however, this is considered food fraud and must be controlled by implementing a food defense plan.

So we all know to be weary of ground coffee, crushed black pepper and honey, along with its whereabouts, but remember that food fraud is much more complicated than that.  That’s why there are companies out there like ours to try and avoid these situations.

Enjoy your next meal!


Shannon Nute, MBA

Director of Communications

ASI Food Safety



Blog: www.FoodSafetyRecommendations.com

HACCP VS Food Safety Plan; Now chew on This.

In our industry, as most of you know, a HACCP plan is required when it comes to passing your audit with a decent score. So what is all of this talk about a Food Safety Plan? I have broken this down for you guys in bullet point form, but if there is still confusion, we will be discussing this in detail on August 17th in our free learning lunch. The link is below.

Ok, so let’s start with HACCP- pronounced HaaSip. This is short for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point. So very simplistically, a HACCP plan is going to show where the hazards are in your facility and point out where it is critical. For instance, a critical control point would be at an x-ray machine or sieve. It is critical because if the food passed through this with a galvanized bolt in it and the x-ray machine is broken, this could cause a huge issue if someone bites into it and breaks a tooth.  So we create a critical control point for this area and prove that you check your machine every 30 minutes with documentation to show that this is not going to be an issue.

So what is a Food Safety Plan then? Well it is like a HACCP plan, but tailored for your industry. I have included this chart below straight from the FDA website that just shows the direct differences. By the way, CCPs stands for Critical Control Points.

Hazard Analysis

HACCP Plan: Biological, Chemical, Physical hazards

Food Safety Plan: Chemical hazards include radio-logical hazards, consideration of economically motivated adulteration

Preventive Controls

HACCP Plan: CCPs for Processes.

Food Safety Plan: Process CCPs plus controls at the other points that are not CCPs

Parameters and Values

HACCP Plan: Critical limits at CCPs.

Food Safety Plan: Parameters and min. /max. values (equivalent to critical limits for process controls)


HACCP Plan: Required for CCPs.

Food Safety Plan: Required as appropriate for preventive controls.

Corrective Actions and Corrections

HACCP Plan: Corrective Actions.

Food Safety Plan: Corrective actions or corrections as appropriate.

Verification (including Validation)

HACCP Plan: For Process Controls.

Food Safety Plan: Verification as appropriate for all preventive controls;validation for process controls; supplier verification required when supplier controls a hazard.


HACCP Plan: For Process Controls.

Food Safety Plan: As appropriate for all preventive controls.

Recall Plan

HACCP Plan: Not Required in the Plan.

Food Safety Plan: Required when a hazard requiring a preventive control is identified.

We are going to go into all of this in great depth on August 17th. Register and we’ll be able to talk more about it then, in plain English.


Shannon Nute, MBA

Director of Communications

ASI Food Safety

800-477-0778 (24×7)

www.ASIFood.com (instant chat)

Validation Vs. Verification; What the Heck is the Difference!?

This is one of the biggest confusions in our industry.  People ask all the time how to figure out the difference between validation and verification in their food plant.  I have broken it down for you so that we can, hopefully, all get on the same page about this topic.

Validation-“Is what we are going to do, going to work?” So in other words, we know from several sources that cooking chicken to the temperature of 165 degrees internally, will kill harmful bacteria that could potentially make people very ill.  We have credible documentation that can prove this.  So at that point, you can say your validation step is  you are going to cook your ready to eat chicken to 165 degrees prior to packaging for public sale.

Verification is seeing if we are actually doing the things that we say we are going to do. So this would mean that we have already validated that 165 is a perfect temperature to kill bacteria and we have stated that that is what we are going to do with our chicken; cook it to 165 degrees. Now we have to test the temperature of the food when it reaches this temperature regularly and document this.  This documentation is the proof of verification.

To confuse the topic even further, the thermometer that you use in the verification process, has to be calibrated regularly for accuracy and you will need to document this as well, proving that you are doing this.

So to sum it all up, validation is saying you are going to do something that is proven to work and verification is testing to show what you said you were going to do, you are now doing.  And of course, don’t forget to calibrate. Check your thermometer, or whatever device you are using to do your verification and then write this all down in one place!

Call us if you are still thoroughly confused.

-Shannon Nute, MBA

ASI Food Safety



1 Side of Salmonella With Your Salad

We have all been there, first the room gets hot, we start to sweat and then the nausea, but I guess it’s better then the other end. . .  Must be food poisoning.

I was reading in the New York Times as they were discussing this topic just because it is a hot one, quite literally, right now.  The interesting thing that I found was when they were discussing the topic with a gastroenterologist. “People tend to blame the last thing they ate, but it’s probably the thing before the last thing they ate,” said Dr. Deborah Fisher, associate professor at Duke University School of Medicine.

Our digestive systems take about 18 hours to digest something so when the symptoms are triggered by food, it was probably that potato salad that you ate at the lunch 8 hours ago that is just entering the nature of food.

Something else that we preach all of the time is being conscience of hygiene. Sure you can wash your hands, but what about that cell phone that you just put down on the counter at the checkout line and then took that call 2 minutes later.  Or how about when you walked down the stairs to drop your kids off at daycare and held the rail on the way down.  Mmmmm sounds like a good mix of bacteria soup.

The one thing that companies fear is killing someone, but chances are, people are just going to have a rough 3 or 4 days and then be back to normal.  It’s the young, pregnant, sick and elderly people that we need to worry about.

The most interesting that I read in the article was that it may not be food poisoning at all. Here’s the scenario, which I am sure that I am guilty of.  Fodmaps. These are essentially carbohydrates that, eaten in excess, are not well absorbed in the small intestine and then make their way into your colon to cause all kinds of trouble. They include myriad things we’re encouraged to eat including broccoli, brussels sprouts, radicchio, asparagus, avocados, mushrooms, peaches, whole grains and legumes. Did I mention over eating?

Lastly, we have our nerves and stress.  This also has nothing to do with germs at all, but food poisening is most likely to blame. “The human brain and nervous system is very intimately mixed with another nervous system that is present in the walls of the intestine,” said Dr. Santhi Swaroop Vege, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic. “These nerve fibers, nerves and plexuses are located continuously in the wall of intestine from the esophagus to rectum.”

This is your biology course for the day.


ASI Food Safety



Quick the Ice Cube is on Fire!

Some of our employees just got back from a show and while they were there they ran into several people who sell sprinkling systems and fire extinguishers. The ironic thing about this, is that the show was for cold storage facilities.  As you might expect, they were thinking, so my frozen meat is going to catch fire? These people are wasting their time and funds.  However, after speaking with them, they learned that just between 2005 and 2009 there were 1,310 fires ignited within cold storage warehouses and distribution centers in the U.S. alone. Why?!

Special Hazards in Cold Storage Warehouses

There are many unique hazards in a refrigerated warehouse that have combustible attributes throughout the building.

We can start with just the items that are stored.  This frozen food is stored in cardboard.  When cardboard becomes refrigerated, it drys it and then becomes combustible. This goes along with many other materials such as rubber tires, rolled paper, carpet, bailed fiber, lift truck batteries, and lighting within the warehouse. The lighting that companies use within these warehouses account for 12% of those fires that I mentioned before. If the bulbs explode and send hot fragments down, well there is the end of your building.

The other shocking detail is that foods such as food coloring and other frozen products such as this are flammable and are classified as a class II or class III commodity.

Cold storage warehouses also have unique insulation to ensure the cold air remains within the pre-established area. In order to maintain the temperature of a refrigerated warehouse, polyurethane and polystyrene foam are often used as insulators. Ammonia-based refrigeration equipment is common within a refrigerated warehouse. In concentrations of 15-28%, ammonia is extremely flammable.

It is necessary to have sprinkler systems within the cold storage unit to contain or extinguish any fires that may occur before it can spread by means of the insulation or refrigerant.

You learn something new everyday.


ASI Food Safety

800-477-0778 (24/7)


Paying Tribute to a Remarkable Man

On Monday June 19th, 2017, food safety icon David M. Theno, only 66, passed away after a wave hit him as he was getting out of the ocean, while swimming with his grandson.

Theno was best known for stepping up and reviving the food chain, Jack in the Box after the massive and deadly outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in 1993; he was the senior vice president and chief food safety officer at the time.  Since then he has become recognized worldwide for his leadership in the food safety industry.

Theno was one of the first to implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points in the facility, or HACCP, which we almost all have to have now.  He required a finished product testing protocol, test and hold, which eventually became the norm for the meat industry.

Theno was with Jack in the Box for almost 16 years after the outbreak and then started the company Gray Dog, better known to serve the Milford, CT based Subway Restaurant chain and become the chief global food safety and quality officer.


Theno’s leadership in responding to the 1993 outbreak and challenge of E. coli O157:H7 has been recognized by numerous scientific and industry organizations.


Rest in Peace Mr. Theno.  Your knowledge, efforts and insight will be missed.

It’s likely that the family will hold a memorial service in about three weeks in the San Diego area.


ASI Food Safety




Keeping all These Records Straight

I was reading an interesting article this morning that discussed how complicated the food industry has really become.  There is so much to document, including items that you can not even control including other companies actions.  You should have, at minimum, three months worth of documentation on incoming product and outgoing product.

I have seen a multitude of companies that can make your life much easier with documenting all of this.  Just know that it has to be done to pass a food safety audit and to properly handle a food recall. It’s probably worth the money and headache to put some sort of program in place well ahead of the three month mark if you plan on having an audit or plan to continue to serve food to people.

Call us, we’re good at getting facilities going in the right direction.





It’s In The Water.

The aspect of food safety, that is.  I read a pretty interesting article today that went over what is required by the FSMA Produce Safety Ruling.  There are a whole slew of things, but among them what I found that could be confusing, are the water rules.

You have to worry about Microbial Water Testing and understanding when water qualifies as agricultural water.  Then you are required to do testing before, during and after harvest, and after all of that, you are also required to create a microbial water quality profile, MWQP.  Luckily, there are resources available to you to help along the way.

Below is a link that I found helpful in explaining things in further detail if you are interested.

Produce Safety Alliance




The Real Truth: You Can Kill Someone

I am on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus daily always looking out for the latest food safety news to keep everyone in the loop.  I think the biggest shocker that I have seen, not just once as we all know, are the companies that are getting in trouble for cutting corners and killing people.

The latest one was a cheese sauce in a gas station and I read about a company that out of 4 samples taken, 3 had Salmonella. What!?! I guess I can’t stress enough that there are food safety laws for a reason and that of course the almighty dollar is important, Mothers, Daughters, Sisters etc., are more important.

There is a guy, which if you are really involved in the industry you will already know, Bill Marler.  He has a great blog site, but basically all he does for a living is try and get justice for people that have been hurt or died from food. You need a reason to tighten up some of your procedures around your facility, read a few of these posts.

If you are running a company, you need to put some real thought into how you are going to handle caring for society. You can start by checking out the FDA website and reading more into FSMA https://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/fsma/ . All of the rules that were made here are to ultimately protect you, the Quality Assurance Manager of your food production, processing and distribution plant. Then in turn, it will protect the people who eat your food.

You want job security, give us a call.  We will point you in the right direction.




800-477-0778 (24/7)

Marler Blog

Your Food Just Came Out of There.

The FDA’s FSMA, Food Safety Modernization Act, has a section in it regarding the sanitary transportation of human and animal food. This means that the trucks that our food are arriving in, are subject to inspection.  Great for consumers! For trucking companies, now what?

Well, you need an inspection.  We do these kinds of inspections. But it’s going to take more than someone coming in and giving you the “A-OK”.  You need to make sure there is training in place with all of your drivers and refresher courses should be available to the employees.

Penske is a great example of a company putting this law into practice.

“We developed our own training program to ensure that Penske associates, which includes our truck drivers, are compliant with this important FSMA pillar,” explained Aaron Henderson, Penske Logistics director of loss prevention. “We incorporated FDA materials, third-party assistance, guidance from industry organizations and previous internal materials. We are also requiring annual refresher courses for all related personnel.”

So what is needed in the training aspect of it all, prior to the inspection, you ask?

  • You have to have documentation and maintain records of training.
  • The employees have to understand the truck’s temperature control tools and the specifics of what makes food unsafe.
  • How to work the tools and maintain temperatures in the trucks.
  • They have to know how to clean their equipment.
  • Lastly, they need to know the general guidelines for food safety and safe conditions for food they are hauling.


For more information about FSMA, read this previous “Move Ahead” blog post.

Need a trucking audit to comply? Give us a call, we’ll be there.