Ensuring food safety is vital for any company working in the protein industries. Product recalls can lead to ruined reputations, facility shutdowns and lost customers, to stay nothing of the potentially lethal risk to public health. This is why ensuring in-plant testing is effective in detecting harmful pathogens is vital to any company working in poultry or related sectors.
JBT’s Prevenio Lab Services is a food safety specialist working with customers within poultry and produce industries by providing pathogen detection services through its accredited microbiological laboratory. Every year, food processors conduct pathogen testing to ensure customer safety and maintain compliance with government-mandated food safety standards.
Some retailers require additional, even more rigorous testing to prevent product recalls, avoid brand damage, and guard against revenue losses. JBT’s Prevenio lab offers the most cutting-edge, innovative, and reliable food-safety testing in the world.
“A lot of what we deal with is detecting cross-contamination with bacteria, such as Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria and E. coli,”” says Dr. Melissa Landrum, JBT Prevenio’s Director of Microbiology. “This can be due to a lot of different reasons, such as problems with sanitation programs where things are being missed or it could be some equipment may need to altered to achieve better efficacy. It could even be something as simple as cross-contamination on shoes or in the plant. We can pinpoint a lot of different reasons for the presence of pathogens.”
As Landrum explains, to help customers solve contamination problems, the Prevenio team visits facilities in person to biomap and take samples before and after each intervention to find out exactly where the risks are before they become an issue with the regulatory agencies.
“Any time a customer finds there is a problem with their internal testing, we will go in and figure out where the problem is or where the cross-contamination point is located,” she says.
Within a poultry plant, the Prevenio team will typically look at whole birds and parts rinses, such as wings and legs, as well as testing finished products, including cooked or marinated chicken.
As an example, Landrum and her colleagues recently aided a poultry plant which was receiving USDA positives for Salmonella, despite internal testing giving the site a clean bill of health. The team, she explains, carried out a “hands on the floor” assessment, looking at where and how sanitation was being carried out, where samples were being taken from for testing and how that testing was being conducted.
“We figured out specific procedures were not being followed for sample collection and provided training and guidance to their internal lab to ensure samples were being run correctly. We located some points of cross contamination that could be addressed,” recalls Landrum. “We gave them pointers and now their results are lining up with the USDA.”
While the recent example of the poultry plant looks to have been successful, the consequences of not taking action can be dire and can range from bad publicity to a complete closure of a business.
Firstly, says Landrum, the results of regular USDA testing are reported publicly, so the public can see what plants have problems and in what location, and that can really put a dampener on a company. “The danger is they lose customers and the USDA can shut them down,” she says. “If there are recalls, customers can decide to go with a competitor instead.”
By choosing the assistance of Prevenio, JBT customers can guard against the worst happening by making sure poultry operations remain compliant and above all safe from initial processing through to the end consumer.