Prevention Vs Detection - Root Cause Analysis of Cross-contamination

July 30, 2018
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Technological advances have allowed the U.S. public health system to get better at identifying foodborne outbreaks. There were 902 foodborne outbreaks reported in 2015, up from 801 in 2011 - food contamination is not increasing, but the ability to detect contaminants has improved.

This technological improvement used by government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC to identify, track and contain outbreaks, allows for better detection of the foodborne illnesses (FBIs) source.

DETECTION OR PREVENTION?

Frank Yiannas, Global Director of Food Safety for Walmart recently tweeted:

FOODBORNE ILLNESS DETECTION IS OUTPACING FOOD BORNE ILLNESS PREVENTION. FOOD SAFETY IS A RACE. WE MUST ACCELERATE “PREVENTION”.

Rather than focus on solely identifying and containing outbreaks, understanding how and why a foodborne illness outbreak occurred is essential to avoid future outbreaks and reduce the estimated 48 million illnesses caused each year by food.

The investigative method known as root cause analysis (RCA) can help determine the underlying reason why contamination occurred and why the food safety systems in place did not prevent it. It is a powerful preventative method to learn and share from past failures, although it currently remains underused.

ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS OF THE CORSS-CONTAMINATION OF FOOD

Disposable gloves are often the last product to handle food. Improved hand hygiene together with gloves with low pick-up and transfer of contaminants, can effectively reduce the main root cause of cross-contamination events that lead to costly and well documented FBI events.

With 15% of foodborne illness outbreaks implicating disposable glove cross-contamination (CDC et al), and the ongoing science proving glove type choice can increase or reduce cross-contamination, disposable gloves should be considered in the RCA of the cross-contamination of food.

Researchers are encouraging regional, national and international events, including the IAFP (International Association of Food Protection), to dedicate more time to the learning of RCA of FBIs, and are encouraging speakers to share lessons from these experiences to help other businesses at risk of making similar errors.

Disposable gloves must be considered in the RCA of the cross-contamination of food. Barry Michaels, international scientific consultant on food safety, has partnered with Eagle to further our food safety research of disposable gloves. Contact us to better understand this research better and how Eagle products can enhance your food safety programs.

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Tags: Food Safety