By Martha Stone
Professionals in the food safety arena know that the FDA’s new approach for FSMA is prevention of, rather than reaction to, foodborne illness outbreaks. But a prevention-based approach requires the collection of data to identify any potential hazards that may be present in the food production process before the food reaches the marketplace. The challenge is that a business’s pathogenic organism detection data is only as good as the sample tested.
The FDA states that if samples are improperly collected and mishandled, or are not representative of the sample lot, the laboratory results will be meaningless. It further outlines three food categories that specify how many samples should be collected in a sampling plan. Most food companies follow sampling plans of n=60, n=30, or even n=15, where food samples of 25g each are taken based on Food Category I, II, or III, respectively. But are these truly representative samples? Will they ensure an adulterant is found if present? Far too often, the accuracy of lot testing proves to be inadequate to ensure safe products.