AFFI looks at current detection methods for public health, regulatory policy

September is Meals Security Schooling month and, in recognition, the American Frozen Meals Institute (AFFI) and the Worldwide Contemporary Produce Affiliation (IFPA) will host a digital Meals Security Discussion board, the place they are going to convene world analysis specialists, trade professionals, and meals security coverage leaders to debate rising points associated to non-cultivable foodborne pathogens. 

Enteric viruses akin to hepatitis A, norovirus and protozoan parasites like Cyclospora and Cryptosporidium are foodborne pathogens related to several types of meals, and which have been implicated in outbreaks. Considerations about these pathogens have led to requires extra routine product testing and surveillance throughout the meals provide chain; nevertheless, detection of those pathogens has a number of limitations.

Audio system on the Meals Security Discussion board will talk about technical challenges and regulatory questions related to detection of those pathogens and interpretation of outcomes.

Following are excerpts from interviews with IFPA’s Jennifer McEntire, Chief Meals Security & Regulatory Officer, and AFFI’s Sanjay Gummalla, Senior Vice President of Scientific, discussing the importance of the discussion board and the scientific discussions from the angle of meals security and public well being.

Query: Why is the Meals Security Discussion board addressing non-cultivable foodborne pathogens now and why are AFFI and IFPA encouraging participation from trade, authorities and academia?

McEntire (IFPA): Whereas concern has grown over the prevalence of those pathogens in meals, they current distinct detection points not seen with bacterial pathogens. This discussion board will delineate variations between bacterial and non-cultivable pathogens akin to hepatitis A, norovirus and Cyclospora. For example, they can’t be propagated by means of pre-enrichment, selective enrichment, or selectively plated, that are gold requirements utilized in identification of bacterial pathogens akin to Salmonella or Listeria. An consciousness of this subject is related to all meals security professionals. 

Gummalla (AFFI): Not like bacterial pathogens that may be grown to excessive numbers in a lab, enteric viruses have to be remoted from the meals or atmosphere by focus and purification, adopted by nucleic acid extraction, earlier than a detection methodology akin to PCR could be utilized. The discussion board will assist attendees higher perceive these steps and the implication of constructive findings, and the regulatory and public well being concerns. All stakeholders ought to have an improved understanding of this subject as requires meals product testing improve.  

​Query: Do these pathogens develop in meals? If we can not tradition these pathogens and they don’t develop in meals, how can we confirm contamination?

Gummalla (AFFI):  No, they don’t develop in meals and that could be a good factor. However since these pathogens can’t be grown, the query we have to ask ourselves is, “is having the ability to detect a nucleic acid fragment synonymous with contamination?” Whereas a suspected bacterial pathogen akin to E. coli or Listeria monocytogenes could be cultivated in a laboratory to verify presence and viability, there is no such thing as a such chance with non-cultivable pathogens. As an alternative, we use PCR-based strategies, like testing for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in medical settings.

McEntire (IFPA): In FDA’s BAM detection protocol for Cyclospora, the company does define sure PCR thresholds, however there stay questions concerning the reliability of PCR testing in meals the place these pathogens are each heterogeneously distributed and will happen solely in low numbers. This case results in a fancy and ambiguous regulatory interpretation of “what” constitutes “an indicator of contamination” and whether or not a nucleic acid discovering determines contamination or adulteration.  ​ 

Query: How is pattern positivity at the moment decided?

Gummalla (AFFI): Whereas a PCR check sign could also be constructive, proof for meals contamination stays unclear. Moreover, confirmatory approaches can assist the unique PCR-based constructive discovering, however none of those strategies have been adequately vetted, printed or routinely utilized by the technical neighborhood.

McEntire (IFPA):  For Cyclospora particularly, the organism seems to have a fancy life cycle, and is just infectious throughout one section of its life. So even when there’s a PCR constructive, you may’t inform which model of the organism was there, even whether it is viable.

Query: What different parts can inform threat?

McEntire (IFPA): Given the constraints of testing and the uncertainty with what a constructive check for the presence of nucleic acid could imply, there are a selection of different elements that must be assessed through the evaluation of a doubtlessly constructive PCR check outcome. This might embrace a evaluation of the presence of employee sicknesses on the farm or facility, a evaluation of website sanitation and using Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) or Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). You will need to perceive the totality of public well being threat to tell meals security selections. 

​​Query: What sources can be found to help these communities decreasing their threat for these organisms?

Gummalla (AFFI): AFFI lately launched an Enteric Virus Management Specialist certification program in partnership with the Worldwide Meals Safety Coaching Institute. This contains programs that deal with finest practices in employee well being and hygiene, managed use of water, waste administration, and sanitation of apparatus and instruments. The course is predicated on AFFI’s Enteric Virus Management Program, a free useful resource out there to all produce growers and processors.

McEntire: IFPA and AFFI are working intently with FDA in assist of trade prevention methods for particular product- hazard pairs, together with berries and hepatitis A, and we’ll share any new data or insights gained. For Cyclospora, now we have a technical bulletin free for trade use. However honestly, we have to higher perceive this organism and routes of contamination. We don’t want the trade to waste sources implementing packages that received’t have an effect.

Query: Why ought to meals security specialists be occupied with studying extra about non-cultivable foodborne pathogens?

Gummalla (AFFI): We’re on the crossroads of setting vital precedents in our approaches to figuring out “indicators of contamination,” “adulteration,” and ascribing “public well being threat” related to non-cultivable pathogens. It will be important for all stakeholders within the meals security neighborhood to grasp limitations in strategies, how we assess contamination, and the regulatory enforcement and public well being influence. We’re excited to host the Meals Security Discussion board and drive scientific consciousness, debate and understanding of this difficult subject. We welcome meals trade professionals to affix us just about on September 21, 2022, at 11 a.m. Jap.  

​This data was contributed by AFFI. For extra data see  

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