RT3 Undesirable Microorganisms – Determining When Food Spoilage becomes Food Safety, and When It Does Not

Monday, August 1, 2016: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
227 (America's Center - St. Louis)
Primary Contact: Peter Taormina
Organizer: Peter Taormina
Convenor: Peter Taormina
Panelists: Melinda Hayman , Mickey Parish , William Shaw and Ruth Petran
Microbial spoilage of food and beverage products can be caused by a number of factors, such as a loss of process control, post-processing contamination, inadequate packaging performance, damage during distribution, or temperature abuse during storage or display. The causative microorganisms of food and beverage spoilage are usually not the same as those that are attributable to foodborne illness. However, in some instances in North America, spoiled products have been subjected to class II recalls, rather than a more discreet market withdrawal. With the recent mandatory recall authorization provided to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in the Food Safety Modernization Act, the difference between "market withdrawal" and "recall" is an important regulatory and legal matter that impacts food brands and the bottom line for food businesses.

The term ‘‘undesirable microorganisms’’ as defined in the Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Control Final Rule includes those microorganisms that are of public health significance, that subject food to decomposition, that indicate that food is contaminated with filth, or that otherwise may cause food to be adulterated. However, questions remain as to what circumstances and which microorganism-product interactions turn a food spoilage event into a food safety concern. Consumers are also confused about the differences between true food safety hazards and undesirable, but innocuous, food spoilage. Expert interpretation of the microbiological data, risk assessments on the product, product status in the marketplace, and normal consumer use and handling of the product must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to make these decisions. This roundtable will focus on the specific microorganism, product associations and discuss scenarios when food spoilage is a food safety hazard as well as scenarios when there is no food safety concern with spoilage.

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