All posts by admin

A Case for using Block Chain Technology for fulfulling the goals of the USDA FSMA

supply chain

Following the introduction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2011, it became increasingly clear that food manufacturers and distributors actively ensure contaminants in the food supply are prevented. This ‘dream’ document contains many ideas on logging the supp;y chain. I personally think that this would be an excellent use of block chain technology because each step in the supply chain could be permanently available to easily track down sources of food contaminants.


A lot of this is record keeping and availability of those records. The FSMA states:

Any food that could be a reasonable cause of adverse health consequences, sickness, or death to humans or animals

Each food industry entity (EXCLUDING FARMS AND RESTARUANTS), who manufacture, process, packs distributes, resells, holds, or imports such foods, Shall at the request of an official with appropriate credentials, and a written notice to such

Make access available and to copy all records related to such foods and any other food that could be could be applicable, and the foods themselves.

This applies to all records relating to manufacturing, processing, packing, distributing, receipt, holding, or importation of such foods, or records held by any party involved in this process in any form or any location.

Despite these efforts, great strides in food manufacture ring and distribution have now seen great success. The main element of the USDA FSMA are to consider other source of contamination (other than physical, chemical, and biological).

Such The operator shall identify and evaluate known or reasonably foreseeable hazards that may be associated with the facility, including biological, chemical, physical, radiological hazards, natural toxins, pesticides, drug residues, decomposition, parasites, allergens, and unapproved food and color additives, and a written analysis of these hazards. (added in the FSMA).

Preventive Controls

The operator shall identify and implement preventive controls, including at critical control points, if applicable, to provide assurances that hazards identified in the hazard analysis previously concluded will be significant in minimizing, preventing, and addressing the food manufactured, processed, packaged, or held by such facility and will not be adulterated, mis-branded or mislabeled.

A common point of these contaminations stems from the distribution chain, identified post-outbreak through a comprehensive record review. So, if regulations on the front-end of the food supply can’t identify food contamination before it gets distributed to consumers, what can be done? The answer is surprisingly simple—food suppliers must ensure they have an information management system in place that can comprehensively and easily track all records on the back-end.

Records and record availability

Intelligent information management is especially crucial for food manufacturers and distributors to maintain high-quality products—as well as a good reputation and track record of trust with suppliers and customers.

These resources must be readily available, especially depending on the amount and type of documents needed based on a supplier’s risk level. After all, food manufacturers and distributors aren’t only in the business of food ingredients—we’re also in the business of information management to maintain our core principles of quality, truth, and service.

Throughout the industry, it’s not uncommon to track documents and business processes manually in a spreadsheet, with files saved across multiple network folders. Remember, contamination stems from the distribution chain. If documents, resources, and processes aren’t easily accessible and referenceable, the challenges of ensuring food safety increase significantly. Again I think that a universally mandated block chain site be erected and its use required of all manufacturers and distributers.

We should ask these questions in any document flow:

• Could any document be found easily, regardless of where it’s stored?

• Could it protect sensitive information while being readily accessible to the right people at the right time?

• Can critical supplier qualification tasks be defined in a workflow, preventing the approval of a supplier until a complete evaluation has been performed?

• Can these review tasks be set to recur at defined intervals, to ensure that the supply chain is periodically (and thoroughly) reviewed?

With an intelligent information management solution implemented throughout our quality, documentation and product management departments, we’ve been able to process requests much faster by gaining visibility to the process. There is now no need for us to maintain a separate spreadsheet on the process; we’re able to get all requested, up-to-date information available into our customers’ hands. For expiring documents, we have visibility into when they expire, and can take a proactive approach to renewing the information. Again, block chain techology could accomplish all these goals with ease,.

While workflow was our primary focus, other important information management elements weren’t—and should never be—neglected, including security, automation, and reducing regulatory risk. These details can make or break your customer and suppliers’ trust and should be carefully considered when thinking through organizing one’s resources.

In short, you may be wondering, “Is proper information management the answer to preventing future food contamination?” While most recalls are a result of poor food safety practices that occur in the distribution chain, it’s difficult to say it’ll be fully stymied, especially following the food preparation phase. However, every food processing organization has the option to do its due diligence to protect the population from devastating nationwide foodborne illnesses. By implementing an intelligent information management system on the back-end to proactively and automatically handle time- and information-sensitive documents for suppliers and customers, we’d all be one step closer to saving the food industry, economy, and, most importantly, lives each year.

I have never heard of a better use of block chain technology.


By Lisa gene Cox
Texas Best Food Services Training
January 2019

All of these records could be on servers in a block chain accesible format for all manufacturers and suppliers.

Understanding E-coli

Understanding E-coli.

E-coli was born in intestines for various reasons. Most strains of E-coli are required there for digestion, infection alerts to your T cells in your immune system that something has to be gotten rid of. However, there is always a few bad apples in the barrel. There are 211 known strains of E-coli.Two are hemorrhagic. Which meas that they can escape the intention. As long as bacteria stays in your intestines you are good. When it can escape the intestines and enter the blood stream, you are going to have a problem.

O157:H7 is the most common monster of E-Coli. It and another strain can leave the intestines and enter the blood stream. There in the process of reproducing it kills red blood cells prematurely. When that happens, they block the kidneys. When that happens, you die, if not treated.

There is one strain of E-coli which is methicillin restant. Methicillin is the antibiotic that is the one of last resort, If you go to the hospital with this, They wont give you a shot ot pill, They will bring you a will, and say, “Hurry, sign it”.

If you cook a whole-intact meat, the required temperature is 145. If you grind it up, like a hamburger patty, now it is 155 degrees. Why? E-coli is a facultative anaerobe is an organism that makes ATP by aerobic respiration if oxygen is present, but is capable of switching to fermentation or anaerobic respiration if oxygen is absent. An obligate aerobe, by contrast, cannot make ATP in the absence of oxygen, and obligate anaerobes die in the presence of oxygen.If E-coli are present on a cut of meat, it will wiggle it’s way to the outside of the meat. If you grind it up, the E-coli will be mixed throughout the cut, requiring a higher temperature to limit it .

E-coli Prevelance

Escherichia coli may be the world’s most recognized bacterial species, but this one species varies tremendously. E. coli is found almost everywhere; from soil to raw meat to human intestines. There are plenty of good E. coli strains such as those that assist in food digestion in the human intestines. However, there are also a number of harmful E. coli strains that cause urinary tract infections, meningitis, and intestinal infections.
In recent years, there have been a number of E. coli outbreaks in the food industry. These outbreaks typically cause intestinal infections which can be severe or even fatal. In this post we will outline the who’s who of E. coli strains and identify why some strains are more deadly than others.

Types of E-coli

e often associate E. coli with intestinal infections. The most common symptom of an intestinal E. coli infection is diarrhea. The severity and characteristics of the symptoms can assist in classifying which type of E. coli strain is present.
Intestinal E. coli infections are typically classified into five categories:
Enterotoxigenic (ETEC)
Enteropathogenic (EPEC)
Enteroinvasive (EIEC)
Enterohemorrhagic (EHEC)
Enteroaggregative (EAEC)
Each type of E. coli strain varies in its transmission and method of infection. EHEC E. coli strains are the most life threatening due to their shiga-toxin production.
etec-e-coli_cdc-philEnterotoxigenic (ETEC) Strains

ETEC E. coli strains are the most common cause of traveler’s diarrhea when travelling to developing countries. It is also a leading cause of infant infection and death in these countries. Adults living in endemic areas often develop immunity to these strains. The infectious dose for these strains is typically high and transmitted from contaminated food and water. These strains are limited to humans and not typically found in animals.
ETEC E. coli strains have colonization factor antigens (CFA) to assist in adherence to intestinal cells and delivery of toxins. These strains produce heat-labile toxins (LT) and/or heat-stable toxins (ST), which facilitate the release of water

Enterohemorrhagic (EHEC) Strains
Enterohemorrhagic (EHEC) strains are the most publically recognized strains and include E. coli O157:H7 as well as Shiga-toxin producing E. coli. These strains have a very low infectious dose and are transmitted through infected food especially meat and unpasteurized beverages.

These infections are commonly observed in developed nations where contaminated meat is processed quickly with uninfected meat and then shipped rapidly across the country. EHEC strains differ from other E. coli strains in that they primarily target the colon and produce Shiga-toxins as well as AE lesions. The AE lesions directly contribute to symptoms such as non-bloody diarrhea.

e-coli-on-macconkey-agar_croppedShiga-toxins enter eukaryotic cells in the intestines and inhibit protein synthesis, resulting in cell death. The Shiga-toxins cause inflammation, thrombosis, and bloody diarrhea. These symptoms can cause the kidneys to become clogged with red blood cells resulting in kidney failure. This condition is referred to as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), and is life threatening.

E. coli O157:H7 strains can be differentiated from other E. coli strains by the use of MacConkey Sorbitol agar. E. coli O157:H7 strains typically do not ferment sorbitol, and therefore give colorless colonies. This is a quick and cost effective measure to detect E. coli O157:H7 infections. These samples should be confirmed by the use of O157 antisera or other test methods.

Enteroaggregative (EAEC) Strains
Enteroaggregative (EAEC) strains are commonly found in children in developing countries. The exact mechanisms of these strains have yet to be fully understood, however it is thought that the E. coli cells are able to adhere to intestinal cells and create a biofilm. Lesions and inflammation are typically not present. Symptoms include watery and mucoid diarrhea which may last for weeks.

Lisa gene Cox
Owner, Texas Best Food Services Training. TX DSHS Lic, # 68

2019 Food Safety Conference now enrolling

Food Safety Conference Program

The 2019 conference March 6-8 in Orlando, FL, is expected to draw 400 public and private sector professionals who are involved in educating people about food safety.

Welcome to the Conference Program page for From Consumers to Chefs: Food Safety Education Matters.

March 6, 2019
On-Site Registration
Pre-Conference Workshops

Federal Agency Research Share — What’s New & What’s Coming Up?

Our Federal agency partners from the USDA, FDA and the CDC will share recent research related to foodborne illness, consumer food handling behaviors and risky foods.

Carmen Rottenberg, Acting Deputy Under Secretary, USDA Office of Food Safety
Paul Kiecker, Acting Administrator FSIS, USDA Office of Food Safety
Susan T. Mayne, Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA
Robert Tauxe, Director, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, CDC
lisa gene Cox, Owner, Texas Best Food Services Training. (pending)

Program Materials

Program Tools: Refresh Your Outreach Toolbox

Food Safety Outreach for Farmers’ Market Consumers: Utilization of Both “Old-Fashioned” & Social Media Approaches

Sharpening Your Farmers’ Market Food Safety Knowledge: Visual Tools & Social Media

Safe Food Handling in Today’s Landscape

Home Food Preservation: What’s Old is New Again!

Cooking Up Cottage Food Safely

A Mixed-Methods Assessment of Consumers’ Risky Food Safety & Beef Safety Behaviors

Know the Data: Modifying Approaches to Increase Consumer Engagement

Barriers & Motivators to Thermometer Use Among Food Workers & Consumers

Framing Messages to Motivate Consumers: Example for Thermometer Use
Evaluating the Efficacy of a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Educational Video on Consumer Thermometer Usage
Show It!

Produce Safety Teaching Demonstrations
Spreading of Norovirus: When You Least Expect It — A Hands-on Demonstration
Food Safety Word Splat

At Risk People

At-Risk People — Action Plan to Engage Vulnerable Populations

We’ll help our audience go deeper in developing awareness of the needs and motivations of special vulnerable populations, including people with underlying chronic conditions such as diabetes.
Sacha Uelmen, RDN CDE, Director of Nutrition, American Diabetes Association
Colleen Doyle, MS RD, Managing Director of Nutrition & Physical Activity, American Cancer Society
TBA (invited speaker)

Illness Reporting

Illness Reporting: Is Increased Outreach Critical?

To better improve foodborne illness surveillance, state and local health agencies are implementing innovative outreach programs for consumers that include centralized illness reporting systems. We’ll talk about how the value of these systems in reducing the number of foodborne illnesses that go unreported.

Marijke Decuir, Minnesota Department of Public Health
Jamie DeMent, Florida Department of Health
Steven Mandernach, AFDO Executive Director
Invited: Harvard School of Public Health


Food Safety Conference Webpage

Food Safety Progress with Blockchain

Blockchain and Food Safety

I have studied blockchain a little, and can see great utility in its universal un-dilutable universal ledger approach. It is horribly data inefficient, but with incredible strides in memory systems, why not waste all available resources, an IT priority I hate.

Someone came up with a fantastic use for this technology. Food Safety chain problem tracking.

The first food poisoning cases came to light in late March: Eight patrons of fast-food restaurants in New Jersey suffered bloody diarrhea and cramps that sent them rushing to hospitals. More than two months later, one person is dead in California, 75 others have been hospitalized, and federal authorities still don’t know where a nasty strain of E. coli bacteria latched on to romaine lettuce from Yum a, Ariz. Their struggle to trace dozens of supply lines across 32 states, on a paper trail that often might actually be on paper, demonstrates the limits of tracing food by methods rooted in another century.

Food safety advocates and industry insiders say it may be time to borrow the encrypted accounting platform that drives crypto currency: block chain. Blockchain, the encrypted accounting platform, may have helped solve the mystery of the nationwide romaine lettuce E. coli outbreak.

“I often describe that as food trace ability at the speed of thought: As quickly as you can think it, we can know it,” said Frank Yi annas, vice president of food safety for Walmart, which is scaling up an IBM-driven pilot block chain that already includes top suppliers such as Uni lever, Nestlé and Dan one.

Not long ago, Yi annas, who guards the integrity of food in Walmart’s $280 billion grocery empire, would have brushed off the notion of an instantly “knowable” and verifiable food chain as fantasy. He heard about it two years ago, when Walmart was about to open a food safety institute in China, where 10 years ago a baby formula adulteration scandal sickened 54,000 babies.

“Up until that point I only knew that it was the technology behind bit coin,” Yiannas said. “I will tell you I was a bit of a skeptic, just like many people are about the technology.” Block chain, for all its cloak-and dagger associations, is basically a democratized accounting system made possible by advances in data encryption. Rather than storing proprietary data behind traditional security walls, companies contribute encrypted blocks of data to a “distributed” ledger that can be monitored and verified by each farmer, packer, shipper, distributor, wholesaler and retailer of produce. No one can make a change without everyone knowing, and agreeing to it.

“If I want to change something or fudge something on my version of the ledger, I then have to share it with everybody else, and they all have to agree to that,” Yiannas said. “You can’t have two separate sets of books. It’s one set of books that everyone sees.”

As it stands, no one can see the entire path from farm to fork. Each time a food-borne illness breaks out-which tends to happen around 900 times a year-investigators have to work their way backward, one link at a time, from victims to fields, tracing multiple paths across separate companies and sometimes across international borders. This would generate great strides in this nearly unmanageable problem.

“It’s very linear, but the food system as we know is not very linear,” Yiannas said. That linear approach can cost lives and waste billions of dollars in health care costs, lost work hours and trashed food every year, health officials and analysts say. Food borne illnesses can cost the economy $152 billion a year, with tainted produce
responsible for a quarter of that damage, according to a Pew Charitable Trust study.

“To say to consumers that you shouldn’t be consuming romaine lettuce if it came from the Yum a area [a leader in organic farming], and yet that information at the point of consumption or the point of purchase isn’t readily available or obvious to the consumer, then that’s a problem,” said Step hen Ostroff, deputy commissioner for food and veterinary medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Block chain, first developed in the 1990s, was considered some dark art in the world ofcrypto currency in 2010, when Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act,the first major overhaul of the nation’s deeply fragmented food safety regulation since the 1930s.

The law required the FDA to identify high-risk foods and require companies to keep better records of them. The agency has yet to write those rules-and they have been further delayed by the Trump administration’s wholesale rollback of regulation. I hope that nobody falls out of their chair from this revelation.

Seven years after the enactment of FSMA, the FDA has yet to carry out Congress’s mandate to create a list of high-risk foods and issue a proposed rule for enhanced record keeping,” a coalition of food safety advocates said in a letter to the agency recently.

The groups noted that leafy greens were responsible for more cases of E. coli illness than any other produce-a general category that accounted for half or more of the outbreaks of listeria, E. coli and salmonella, and a third of the campylobacter outbreaks reported from 2009 to 2013.

Ostroff said implementing the remaining FSMA regulations “would help, but it wouldn’t necessarily solve the problem” presented by such a broad outbreak.

No one solution will. only cocktails of efforts will better address food safety issues.

Parts of this article taken from an article by BY GEOFFREY MOHAN LOS ANGELES TIMES