September is Food Safety Education Month, and the American Frozen Foods Institute (AFFI) and the International Fresh Food Association (IFPA) are hosting a virtual food safety forum that brings together research experts, industry experts and food safety experts from around the world. increase. Policy leaders to discuss emerging issues related to non-cultivable foodborne pathogens.
Enteric viruses such as hepatitis A, noroviruses, and protozoan parasites such as Cyclospora and Cryptosporidium are various types of food-associated foodborne pathogens and have been implicated in outbreaks. Concerns about these pathogens are demanding more regular product testing and monitoring throughout the food supply chain. However, detection of these pathogens has some limitations.
Food Safety Forum speakers will discuss the technical challenges and regulatory issues associated with detecting these pathogens and interpreting results.
Below are excerpts from interviews with Jennifer McEntire, IFPA’s Chief Food Safety Regulatory Officer, and Sanjay Gummalla, AFFI’s Senior Vice President of Science, highlighting the importance of the forum and scientific discussions in terms of food safety and public health. We are talking about importance.
question: Why is the Food Safety Forum currently addressing non-cultivable foodborne pathogens? Why are AFFI and IFPA encouraging participation from industry, government and academia?
McEntire (IFPA): Although there is growing concern about the prevalence of these pathogens in food, there are distinct detection problems not seen with bacterial pathogens. This forum will discuss the differences between bacterial and uncultured pathogens such as hepatitis A, norovirus, and cyclospora. For example, they cannot be propagated by pre-enrichment, selective enrichment, or selective plating. They are the gold standard used to identify bacterial pathogens such as: salmonella Also ListeriaAwareness of this topic is relevant to all food safety professionals.
naGumara (AFFI): Unlike bacterial pathogens, which can be grown to large numbers in the laboratory, enteric viruses must be isolated from food or the environment by concentration and purification, followed by nucleic acid extraction, before detection methods such as PCR can be applied. . This forum will help participants better understand the implications of these procedures and positive findings, as well as regulatory and public health considerations. As the demand for food testing grows, all stakeholders need to develop their understanding of this topic.
na question: Do these pathogens grow in food? If these pathogens cannot be cultured and do not grow in food, how do you check for contamination?
Gumara (AFFI): No, they don’t grow on food. That’s good. But since these pathogens are unable to multiply, we have to ask, “Is being able to detect nucleic acid fragments the same as contamination?”Suspected bacterial pathogens such as Escherichia coli Also Listeria monocytogenes It can be cultured in the laboratory to confirm its presence and viability, but that is not possible with non-culturable pathogens. Instead, use PCR-based methods, such as tests to detect SARS-CoV-2 in clinical settings.
naMcEntire (IFPA): In the FDA’s BAM detection protocol for Cyclospora, the FDA outlines specific PCR thresholds, but these pathogens are unevenly distributed, limiting the use of PCR testing in foods that may occur in small numbers. Questions remain about reliability. This situation leads to complex and ambiguous regulatory interpretations of what constitutes an “indicator of contamination” and whether nucleic acid discovery determines contamination or adulteration.na
naquestion: How is the positive rate of samples determined today?
naGumara (AFFI): Although the PCR test signal may be positive, evidence of food contamination remains unclear. Moreover, although confirmatory approaches can corroborate the original PCR-based positive findings, none of these methods have been adequately scrutinized, published, or routinely used by the technical community. .
McEntire (IFPA): For Cyclospora in particular, the organism appears to have a complex life cycle, infecting only one stage of its life. So even if it’s PCR positive, it doesn’t tell you which version of the organism was there, even if it survived.
question: What other components can signal risk?
McEntire (IFPA): Given the limitations of the test and the uncertainty about what a positive test for the presence of nucleic acids means, there are a variety of other factors that should be evaluated during the review of potentially positive PCR test results. . This includes reviewing the presence of worker illness on the farm or facility, reviewing site sanitary conditions, and using Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) or Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Understanding the overall public health risk is critical to making food safety decisions.
question: What resources are available to assist these communities in reducing the risks to these organisms?
naGumara (AFFI): AFFI recently launched the Enteric Virus Control Specialist Certification Program in partnership with the International Food Protection Training Institute. This includes courses addressing best practices in worker health and hygiene, controlled water use, waste management, and equipment and tool hygiene. This course builds on his AFFI’s Enteric Virus Management Program, a free resource available to all growers and processors.
McEntire: IFPA and AFFI work closely with FDA to support industry prevention strategies for specific product and hazard combinations, such as berries and hepatitis A, and share new knowledge and insights gained. increase. There is a free technical bulletin available for industry use on Cyclospora. But honestly, we need a better understanding of this organism and its contamination pathways. We do not want the industry to waste resources implementing non-impacting programs.
question: Why should food safety professionals be interested in learning more about non-cultivable foodborne pathogens?
Gumara (AFFI): We are at a crossroads that sets important precedents in approaches to identify sources of contamination indicators, contamination, and public health risks associated with uncultivable pathogens. increase. It is important that all stakeholders in the food safety community understand the limitations of methods, how contamination is assessed, and the implications for regulatory enforcement and public health. We are pleased to host the Food Safety Forum to promote scientific awareness, discussion and understanding of this difficult topic. Food industry professionals are welcome to join us online on September 21, 2022 at 11:00 AM ET.
This information was provided by AFFI. For more information, please visit www.affi.org/food-safety-forum.
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