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Linking the Global Food Chain and $2.9 Billion in Food Microbiology Testing
Date:8/29/2013

s in this segment reflect that fact. However, low levels of testing in some of the other food segments might not make sense given the increasing foodborne illness events in those segments over the past few years.

Where food samples are collected is another area of significant variation among geographic regions. Worldwide, 26% of all food microbiology samples are collected from raw materials and 25% are collected in process and in the production environment. The remaining 49% of tests are collected from end products prior to release.

Sample collection within geographic regions, particularly for pathogen tests, shows major differences. In North America, just 8% of samples for pathogen testing are collected from raw materials, while in-process/environmental sampling is much more aggressive at 44%. In Asia, just 8% of pathogen samples are collected from in-process/environmental sources, indicating that very different testing philosophies are at work.

While HACCP and other plant management strategies have been at the heart of food safety programs in North America for the past 20 years, it appears this is not yet the case in China, India, and other Asian countries interviewed. HACCP or “hazard analysis and critical control points” relies on system-wide measurement of potential food safety hazards rather than on finished product inspection and testing to detect biological, chemical and physical contamination in food before it leaves the plant.

ENSURING SAFE FOOD

According to SCI President, Tom Weschler, "If there were one overall conclusion about global food safety practices, it would be that food microbiology testing is far from homogeneous." There are important variations by organism, by food segment, by geographic region, by where samples are collected, and by method used for analysis.

Given these inconsistencies, how do we consistently ensure safe food? According to Weschler, the best way to start is to ackn
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