Safe And Sane Food Policy: Fix The Causes To Fix The Results
From my Column in the Cheese Reporter
Volume 141, No. 25, December 18, 2016
In my last column I shared how changes in food policy at the FDA are laying the foundation for a safer food supply. Science, prevention, managing risks, and improving processes, is the right path. We have been snookered by specifications, arbitrary targets, and homespun solutions for too long. We pay too much attention to the noise, and not enough to what is really going on. We need to stop chasing phantoms, and focus on what is, as I advise in my book, “REAL.”
The “method” I have used to do this, Continual Improvement, adapted for farm work using little more than a pencil and paper, teamwork and some horse sense, solves sticky problems our current food safety system finds difficult to address.
I was consulting with a cheese factory whose raw milk cheeses began to explode. The milk came from a single farm who had sought the help of the authorities, but were refused.
The farm was meeting all of its required standards and had passed their inspections so until someone got sick, there was no obvious threat to public health. (A bit like waiting until the heart attack to cut back on using salt.)
Working with a cheese technologist and a professor in the hope of finding the cause, I applied tools of Quality Improvement, in which I am trained. Other cheese plants, who worked with pasteurized milk, were having the same problem.
The professor formed a hypothesis, after testing did not reveal the usual suspects: the germ causing the cheese to explode was a mutation, either a coliform or a fecal strep and had developed the ability to survive pasteurization. Since the problem was widespread, it had nothing to do with using raw milk. The question was, at what stage of their process was the mutation contaminating the milk? “Fix the Cause, Change the Result.”Other Strongin Articles written for Cheese Reporter Safe And Sane Food Policy A Ray Of Hope For A More Effective Food Safety Policy In Her Own Words - Linnea Burnham
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