USDA Web Portal Offers Big Food Safety Benefits
for Small Food Processors By
Laura McGinnis September 19, 2007
WASHINGTON, September 19, 2007The U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) has unveiled a new
Internet resource to help smaller companies answer food safety questions and
help food processors make science-based food production decisions. The Internet
portal, available at http://www.ars.usda.gov/naa/errc/mfsru/portal,
is one of the most comprehensive decision support tools available.
"Scientists, food safety risk managers, researchers and government
decision-makers can use this access to predictive modeling tools and food
microbiology information," said
B. Knipling, administrator of USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
"The portal is geared towards small and very small processors, but the
information it contains will benefit companies of all sizes."
"This partnership builds on our extensive efforts to provide more
resources and better tools to the small and very small plants so they can
enhance the safety of their products," said Al Almanza, administrator of USDA's
Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
The Predictive Microbiology Information Portal (PMIP) was developed by ARS scientists at
Wyndmoor, Penn., working with colleagues at FSIS,
Rutgers University, and
Consultants, Inc., in Canada. FSIS will also provide a link to the portal
to facilitate access by the meat and poultry industry, especially small and
very small plants.
PMIP focuses on processors with 500 or fewer employees. ARS
K. Juneja and his ARS and FSIS colleagues met with many industry members to
tailor the Web portal to their diverse needs in providing safe and wholesome
products to consumers.
Currently, PMIP offers information on research, regulations and
resources related to Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods, the
prototype identified for the project by FSIS. In the coming months, it will be
expanded to include other pathogen and food combinations. A searchable database
allows users to find information that can also be used by food processors to
develop plans for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, to ensure the
safety of food processes.
The Web portal also includes a tutorial section with instructions on
using and interpreting predictive models and links users directly to the ARS
Pathogen Modeling Program and ComBase. The
Program is a multi-lingual modeling tool that is used by food processing
companies around the world. ComBase is an international relational database of
predictive microbiology information that contains more than 30,000 datasets
describing the growth, survival and inactivation of bacteria under diverse
environments relevant to food processing operations.
ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency. FSIS is
USDA's public health agency responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry and egg
products are safe, wholesome and correctly labeled. FSIS provided funding for
the collaborative project.