The American Academy of Microbiology (AAM) said that previously unrecognized or newly emerging hazards may also cause foodborne illnesses and are only detected when epidemiologic data suggest an association between a particular food and a particular pathogen or illness. The salmonellosis linked to contaminated peanut butter is one example of this, it added.
Technology – such as the introduction of the PulseNet system - can play a key role in reducing the risks that have grown with the increasing complexity of the food distribution system. The system uses DNA testing to compare the genetic fingerprints of pathogenic bacteria from patients and suspect foods. The fingerprints are loaded into a database where they can be compared and indistinguishable fingerprints detected, said the report.
The AMM identifies the “absence of adequate guidance” as a problem for processors and a barrier to cutting food safety risks at the processing stage. Processors are required to implement and carefully follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), which support, as other prerequisites, the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system. While the report recognises that GMP are “frequently not fully implemented” by processors, it adds, with what appears to be a criticism, that to be effective the methods must have “full buy-in from processors, which means in part that they must be economically realistic”.
The body said the practices should also be “clear and reasonably easy to implement” and adds there is often confusion among processors over terms used in guidance notes
“The HACCP concept is currently ripe for re-examination and the principles may need to be revisited and updated to reflect four decades worth of experience with HACCP”, it concluded.
Source: American Academy of Microbiology