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I’ll Have a PB&J Sandwich, Hold the S Please

Center for the Global Food Value Chain Blog

Working in the food industry, it’s hard to miss the numerous peanut butter outbreaks and recalls that have happened over the past few years. Many were caused by Salmonella contamination.

And, when I take a closer look, it’s not just peanut butter in my sandwich. There have been many significant Salmonella outbreaks and recalls associated with low moisture ready-to-eat (RTE) foods, including: chocolate, powdered infant formula, raw almonds, toasted oats breakfast cereal, and dry seasonings to name a few.

Add to that the sheer numbers of these ingredients that are used in so many different food products—it’s hard to track where they go and what foods they may be in.

So what does that mean for your company? Well, we’ve learned that Salmonella may find niches and persist in food processing environments in low moisture plants that you may not have worried about before. And, it’s much harder to kill Salmonella with heat in low moisture products than in other products. Even a minor ingredient could be the source of Salmonella in your processing environment and in your finished product.

Regulation has been put in place to escalate the issue and reduce risk of foodborne illness. The Food Safety Modernization Act requires the industry to apply a preventive controls approach. In other words, understand the hazards that may affect your products and processes, and take steps to mitigate or reduce them.

Your company should take action to protect the public, your customers, your brands, and your reputation. Look for Salmonella in your low moisture foods operations, starting with a hazard analysis to find the potential sources of Salmonella. Review your supplier requirements, process controls, sanitation, and environmental sampling through finished product verification.  An up-to-date look at this hazard in low moisture operations may make the difference between smooth sailing or crisis management.

Faye Feldstein Faye Feldstein
Senior advisor
Deloitte Consulting LLP




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