Earlier this year, there were illnesses reported in Iowa that may be associated with Salmonella contamination in a chicken salad product. A public health alert was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service, which reverberated in grocery stores not only in Iowa but also Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota1.
The manufacturer implicated in the outbreak is undoubtedly working hard to institute new process controls that re-establish their food safety commitment to regulators, business partners and consumers. The stakes are higher for the company because the contamination came after the FSIS – the regulatory authority that oversees the controls for handling and microbiologic monitoring of poultry and eggs (as well as meats) in the U.S. – issued important new testing standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 1.4 million cases of foodborne illness and more than 450 deaths are annually attributed to Salmonella infections in the U.S. Campylobacteriosis is the second most frequently reported cause of foodborne illness, with Campylobacter jejuni the most common strain causing illnesses. CDC estimates that there are 1.3 million cases of campylobacteriosis each year in the U.S. alone. FSIS expects to prevent 50,000 of these illnesses as a result of its recently revised pathogen reduction program and specific changes to its sampling approach for locating these bacteria.
From an overall perspective, the majority of foodborne illnesses can be attributed to eating raw or undercooked poultry or from contamination of other foods by these items. Salmonella or Campylobacter, two of the most significant pathogens commonly found in poultry, can spread from the farm to processing facilities. This means that during slaughter, de-feathering, rinsing and various other steps in the poultry production process, proper sanitary operations and the use of effective antimicrobial interventions are necessary to minimize contamination.
At 3M, we are intimately familiar with the importance of comprehensive food safety programs that are inclusive of both product testing and environmental monitoring, and we are committed to bringing forth advanced, easy-to-use technology that produces more reliable and rapid results. To that end, we currently provide the global food and beverage industry a full suite of tools and technologies to verify hygienic processing conditions, collect indicator data from microbial loads, and provide highly specific tests that detect the presence and prevalence of notable pathogens and allergens.
Testing for Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry can be particularly challenging since raw poultry samples are complex and contain high load of competing microflora. 3M offers a fast, accurate and easy-to-use pathogen testing solution in its award-winning 3M™ Molecular Detection System and 3M™ Molecular Detection Assay 2 – Salmonella and 3M™ Molecular Detection Assay 2 – Campylobacter test kits, providing a complete solution for simultaneous monitoring of both pathogens. The 3M system employs a unique combination of technologies – isothermal DNA amplification and bioluminescence detection – to provide a simple, streamlined process for accurate detection of foodborne pathogens. The method is significantly faster than alternatives like PCR, immunoassay and culture methods, and has a high throughput of up to 96 tests of multiple types of enriched samples in one 60-75 minute instrument run.
As a global manufacturer of food safety solutions, we are also committed to providing industry professionals the opportunity to continue their education and stay current on the latest food safety topics. We have developed a white paper, “Advancing Poultry Pathogen Management: Using Modern Testing Technology,” that addresses the importance of tools and technologies in the poultry processing industry.
In addition, the 3M SM Health Care Academy acts as a vault of valuable resources for food industry professionals to find answers to their food safety questions anytime from anywhere. 3M’s food safety and quality educational offerings include in-person events, on-demand webinars, instructional videos as well as many informational materials.
It is a long journey from the family farm to the dinner table, and the safest step food safety professionals can take is adopting a total solution from sample collection and preparation to monitoring and detection. It is important for poultry producers to rise to the challenge of meeting the highest safety standards in the food industry. Utilizing simple, proven solutions that quickly and reliably get the job done will help ensure the quality and safety of food products for consumer protection. Plus, increased efficiency in food safety testing methods while still receiving accurate results, increases productivity and allows for products to go to market faster for a better bottom line.