According to WHO, that would be the World Health Organization, the bacteria most recently associated with food borne illness in Europe are Salmonella and Campylobacter. If you reference Foodsafety.gov for those organisms causing the most illness and deaths in the United States, the site lists Salmonella, Norovirus (virus), Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, Clostridium Perfringens. Obviously, there are many other bacteria, viruses and even prions responsible for causing illness in humans.
Depending upon the type of food and processing environment, you can build a list of potential food borne illness hazards (bacteria/viruses) to apply risk assessment tools for the determination of where and how to deploy preventive measures. You can always include additional microbial hazards because you always have humans in the processing areas.
This would be great if the pathogens would just cooperate and follow our rules on what to expect from them. Back in the day, Salmonella was a dry environment pathogen and Listeria was a wet environment pathogen. Salmonella considers itself an exception, Salmonella is commonly involved with egg and poultry associated food illness outbreaks. But we are seeing quite a bit of cross over with these pathogens in wet and dry environments. We read the best practices guidance documents for sanitation and environmental monitoring in wet and dry processing facilities to help us implement the preventive measure in our processing facilities. The introduction of a wet processing area in a dry processing facility could introduce some interesting challenges. One example would be if you converted to steam sterilization of spices from the usage of Ethylene Oxide and Propylene Oxide fumigants. Or trying to maintain traffic control to and from your new wet “cleaning out of place” for equipment. You could try and paint a box on the floor around the wet or dry area then tell the microbial hazard “don’t go in there”. It is not quite that easy.
There could be holes in your preventive measures. How often do you read about environmental monitoring programs for Campylobacter as an example? Is it just lumped in with Salmonella? Is Campylobacter even listed in ingredient/product specifications or the HACCP plan? Do you consider your specification to be an important aspect of your food safety plan? Is or would Campylobacter be included in the Certificate of Analysis requirements?
With all the different bacteria and virus that could cause illnesses, how many actually are in the Hazard Analysis or in the specifications? Just identifying “Pathogens” as a hazard during your Hazard Analysis is probably not a very good idea. Of course, as you increase the number of microbiological tests in the specification as a certificate of analysis requirements, you are creating a unique ingredient that will increase the cost of that ingredient and then you probably are not checking to see if the supplier is preventing the hazards in the first place.
With the Food Safety Modernization Act, suppliers are required to notify their customers of any uncontrolled hazards and obtain documentation from the customer illustrating they understand and have preventive measures in place. What if the supplier has not done an adequate job identifying potential hazards then eliminated some of the hazards that had been identified with the risk assessment process. Have they actually have developed the appropriate preventive measures for those hazards that remain? You may actually need to know more about the supplier’s products than they do and then understand how to assess the hazards from multiple ingredients and packaging materials in your “finished goods” food safety program. But, if you don’t, have confidence that you are OK. You have an audit certificate that says everything is OK.
Who develops the specifications? Did your suppliers or did you create the requirements? Who was involved in the specification development process? Do you review the supplier’s food safety program against the needs of your specification and if you developed that specification was it created to support your food safety program capabilities?
A support team member will contact you with your login information within 24 hours.