Innovations Decrease Recalls
I am excited about the remake of the 1990's science-fiction action film, Total Recall.
I have already set aside some money for the super sized bucket of popcorn. The special effects created in the original film 20 years ago were a blast. One of my favorite scenes was the one where Arnold Schwarzenegger threw his exploding robotic talking head towards the villains. With all of the modern cinema technology available today, I can hardly wait to experience the remake's sensory thrills. Come August 3rd, I will be sitting front row center, laughing and screeching, while munching and crunching on salted popped kernels.
Increased Recall Rates
Speaking of munching and crunching is it my imagination or has the number of food recalls increased? I vacillate back and forth between becoming a tie dye hippie vegetarian or a full out 24/7/365 meat eater. Hardly a month doesn't squeak by before another public health food scare announcement occurs somewhere on this planet. On a high note, hearing those food health alerts is helping me finally lose unwanted body fat. Once I hear the word recall, I go into a "better be safe, than sorry" mode of cleaning out my pantry and refrigerator.
About a year ago, I was reading an article that said that there were close to 2,500 food recalls over the past 10 years within the U.S., Ireland and UK combined. What caught my eye is that only about 70 percent of the tainted meats, processed foods, fruits and vegetables recalled were detected from audits (spot checking) and regulatory inspections. That means, alarmingly so, that close to 30 percent of contaminated, infected or spoiled foods went undetected and reached the consuming public within these countries.
Super Heroes Unite
Thanks to the dedicated recent combined efforts of laboratorians and food engineers, I will be tossing out fewer foods thereby giving my grocery budget the savings boost it has been longing for. These professionals in collaboration with product regulatory agencies are reaching out to each other in ways that would have been unfathomable a couple of decades ago. As a result of these joint efforts, over time we should expect to see a decrease in recalls.
According to food scientists and lab toxicologists, there are several innovative methods that they are collaborating on, which will soon be implemented to alleviate the lengthy regulatory recall processes and minimize the current risks to consumers.
The following are just a few of the innovative multiparty ventures.
- Fruits & Vegetables: Expiration timeframes can be imbedded safety in sensors made of silk and gold that can be eaten along with the food has been invented. It seems that these sensor stickers can be affixed to such items as apples and lettuce or float in liquids, like juices and milk. The benefit of these sensors is continual monitoring and evaluation of safety levels for foods and beverages. Additionally, the sensors will quickly alert sellers and purchasers of harmful pathogens that the product may have developed before, during or after shelf time.
- Meats: We all know that meat is capable of being engineered, which has lead to a heated "meat in a test-tube" controversy. In vitro scientists swear that consumers will not be able to tell the difference between farm raised or test tube beef patties once the lettuce, tomato and mayo sauce is smeared on the bun. In addition, some government officials support in vitro created meat due to the concern that globally, the supply-demand for meat consumption will more than double over the next couple of decades. Additionally, an added benefit to lab-created meats are, the reduction of meat diseases, such as E. coli and spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as Mad Cow Disease.
- Eggs & Dairy Products: Remember the recent massive egg recall? According to the FDA and the CDC, unrecalled tainted eggs would have cause a national outbreak of serious food poisoning. Salmonellosis, otherwise known as food poisoning, is caused by Salmonella which were found in the product. The symptom from this disease can range from diarrhea and vomiting up through severe cases of death. As laboratorians, we know that the testing process of salmonella can take up to 5 days to produce results. Dedicated lab scientists heard the regulatory concerns of lengthy timeliness of test results, and have created a reduced processing time, known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which shortens availability of the test results down to 5 to 12 hours. A similar process is being applied to test for E. coli in ground beef.
I am happy to see new and multiple innovative approaches being created to address problems and decrease food recalls. I am equally as proud of the collaborative efforts of laboratory scientists and food engineers. The development of prevention strategies will alleviate global food waste and reduce potential and actual risks to consumers. Hooray!