Our Table Live – Food Safety

Our Table Live - Food Safety

okay well thank you all so much for coming to the third our table discussion through food at MSU and if you're not yet familiar with food at MSU we are part of a campus-wide initiative that's a little different from what normally comes out of a University so the whole purpose is to do a lot more listening and a lot less preaching and telling people what to do and the centerpiece of that is our table which are community conversations about different food topics so we had one late last year on food access Christo Rey community center thankfully with Joe Garcia who's here tonight we had another one more recently on food waste which is a pretty important topic as we address a lot of global challenges and also food distribution channels challenges and tonight and I think for most of you here today all day we are talking about food safety which is always a topic that seems to make the news and something I think we've been hearing about especially a lot lately as it relates to some lettuce and so since we're getting a little bit of a later start I want to jump right into the conversation here but it's very important to spend a lot more time with you here in the room than for you guys to listen to me talk so I'm gonna introduce the panelists we'll get started with a few questions thank you all so much for being here and then we'd love to turn it over to you guys because you're here to be part of this conversation not to just listen to us about what we should do so to get going immediately to my left we have Julie funk Julie is the associate dean of professional academic programs and student success for the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine Julie leads academic and clinical veterinary programs with faculty and students and she's also a professor in the department of large animal clinical sciences and directs Ms use online food safety program next as many of you know and there's more expensive biographies in your pamphlet but as many of you are already familiar with for Tricia Griffin dr. Griffin is chief of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's interract is epidemiology branch she oversees us surveillance of sporadic illnesses caused by lots of nasty stuff and determines the sources and risk factors for them we have Sandra Walker next she's the Food Program Manager for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development she is responsible for the daily management of the department's director foodservice inspection program and thankfully Sandra helps to assure statewide uniformity and accountability for internal food programs operations and finally we have Frankie honest Frank is Walmart's VP of food safety and he oversees all food safety of Walmart stores neighborhood markets and Sam's Club wholesale stores he's also a registered microbiologist and Frank is responsible for the training and education of associates food safety oversight of thousands of food suppliers and many critical regulatory compliance issues so all of these people presumably are keeping us safe and healthy so thank you so those were kind of my snapshot introductions I thought it might be good just to begin by going down the line telling everyone here a little bit maybe a 30 seconds two minutes whatever you're comfortable with about what you do so maybe we'll start with Julie and just go down it so currently what I do is help oversee academic programs and student success for veterinary students and veterinary technology students who many people don't realize have important roles in food safety I also from the standpoint of my research side my research is on the epidemiology of foodborne pathogens and swine so I've spent a lot of time looking at farms about how to control those pathogens on farms so so I work at CDC and CDC's focus is on people on keeping people healthy and on figuring out what's making them sick and we try to figure out whether illnesses are increasing or decreasing and why why do people get this illness can we get to the root cause of it and figure it out so that we can prevent it that's what we want to do prevent illnesses as a food program manager huh with the state of Michigan under the Department of Agriculture real development and basically what that means is air traffic control for our our state inspectors we're in charge of all things food safety wise in the state of Michigan we have sixty inspectors food inspectors and six regional supervisors and we oversee food safety and licensing in the state of Michigan we also have the charge of all food but we rely on our local health departments to go into the food service operations and we provide accreditation of those programs to make sure that they are in adherence to all the rules and regulations so you know nutshell that's what I do very good and I like to think of myself as a public health professional happen to be working in the private sector as opposed to the public sector but most of you know Walmart pretty big retailer we're operating in about 28 countries around the world close to 500 billion dollars annually in revenue over half of that comes from food so we buy and sell a lot of food tens of thousands of food suppliers about 2.4 million employees or associates around the world 240 million customers a week and so with that comes a very important responsibility to ensure that the food that we're selling is safe and so at the end of the day I like to think that my role is primarily to try to influence the behaviors of a lot of associates at Walmart to make sure that you have a shape safe shopping experience all right well let's jump right in I guess I'll say my first question that's you Julie of food safety means a lot of different things to a lot of different people I think even here in the room we might have some different ideas about what it means so what should we be thinking of when we're thinking of food safety well I think about it relatively simple simplistically I mean food is a basic need it also I was evidenced by us sitting around this table has a really strong social component is really a very important part of community as well and you should just simply be able to meet your basic needs celebrate with your family maintain your cultural norms and keep your society strong when you eat food and not have to worry about whether you're potentially going to be ill or have negative effects from it okay well I think up to everyone we hear about outbreaks and contaminated produce a lot especially as it pertains to many of us and our families and communities getting sick so why is it so difficult to ensure the safety of fresh produce that's a good question you have to understand and you can look at the the lettuce outbreak in that bite time you discover that something's wrong the lettuce is close to expiration oh there's just so many different factors as far as first figuring out where the heck is coming from it by time you figure it out it's expired and off the shelves so that's one thing I can say let me win that's some really good answers I want the audience to realize that by and large on average it's very safe to consume produce and we want Americans to eat more fresh produce is a very good thing but occasionally when the food skiers are out way to happen they're predominantly associate with produce items but a couple of reasons when you think about fresh produce we don't all want to you can produce right I don't so it's fresh that's grown outside it's subject to contamination by air or water or soil animals and there isn't a final critical control point or kill step and so that makes it a little bit more challenging and as Sandra mentioned when the outbreaks or illnesses do occur we don't have good tracking and tracing systems as evidenced by this romaine incident four weeks into it and we can't track it and so it's really hard to get back to root cause analysis and understand what happened but like dr. Griffin I'm optimistic that things are gonna get better and I think we're going to see better traceability systems that when turn lead to better root cause analysis and prevention but produce is very challenging okay well I'll turn back to Sandra because I'm sure I don't have to tell anyone here that Michigan is a huge state in terms of food and agriculture so what are some considerations in the production process that we might not know about as an audience related to food safety it's it's so diverse as far as the the offerings when you think of production you might think of a a large production outfit in Michigan we have a diverse group of folks who are producing all sorts of things and people are creative as well so you may see production going on in the the back room of a restaurant you may see all sorts of ideas from from chefs that decide hey and we've had this I think I want to make the food look brighter so let me add some nitrates to it not knowing that there's an inherent danger in doing that so we have a lot of diversity in Michigan as far as agriculturally we're number two as far as the most diversity as far as crops and offerings I mean we have blueberries cherries apples you name it asparagus and asparagus sees that are starting now so there are a lot of there's a lot of diversity and a lot of challenges and you find it in unique areas within the food industry okay and eventually all the food produced well no actually 60% of the food we produce in this country reaches consumers forty percent gets wasted but that was a different session but an important one and there's a lot of steps being taken to reduce our food waste thankfully but Frank back to you you're a microbiologist and you're responsible for food safety at a global company so that is a lot of stores and a lot of food how do you ensure that every step possible is taken to keep our food safe well you got to have a plan it's not going to happen by chance or accidents so we have very thoughtful deliberate strategies and plans to try to prevent harmful food from reaching customers for us it begins with number one making sure that we do everything possible to reduce contamination early in supply chain those are the requirements that we have on our suppliers whether they're large international private brand or small occasionally we'll work on more specific interventions for certain products that are known to be associated with pathogens for example we rolled out a poultry safety initiative to try to reduce Salmonella on chicken parts secondly then we have to reduce the retail risk factors and that's what happens in our stores in clubs in the preparation procedures that's a whole host of issues ranging from how do we design stores and clubs how do we select the right equipment how do we make the work simple training and education inspections a third thing that we do is make sure that we're always in compliance with regulation and so making sure that regulatory compliance is a smart focus of what we do fourth think is to try to manage emerging issues there are a lot of emerging food safety issues these days ranging from food waste sometimes associated with food safety when you think about used by dates and code dates to antibiotic resistance in foods and then the last thing that we do is try to drive international consistency as I mentioned operating in 28 countries around the world you know safe food isn't good for just some consumers in some countries safe food is important for all consumers everywhere and so we work on trying to standardize and doing things one best way what we can and should we be paying much attention to those expiration dates the sell-by dates and best by dates in general the best answer is it depends you know if it's a perishable product that might proliferate harmful pathogens you should but by and large is of a shelf staple product that's generally they're just for quality and not safety and Walmart was one of the pioneers leading a date labeling initiative where we actually surveyed customers and found out the terminology that made most sense to them that this food was only dated for quality reasons not safety was best if used by so we standardized all of our private brands we're happy to say that the grocery Manufacturers Association picked that up and now that's a requirement and so we're standardizing the way date labels happen on foods that aren't only dated for quality not safety I'm glad to hear that because I find it confusing myself but turning to Patricia we have new technology is changing the way we understand foodborne disease outbreaks and detection and identification so I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about whole genome sequencing so whole genome sequencing is a great new technique and it's getting cheaper and cheaper and as I've mentioned earlier we're planning to do it for all the pathogens all the bacterial pathogens that can be transmitted by food and with whole genome sequencing you actually know the genetic makeup of the bacteria and you can predict what it's resistant to and you can find all the virulence factors you can determine this zero type of Salmonella and you can tell whether the bacteria isolated from one person is the same as the one isolated from another person that may live a thousand miles away and whether it's the same as one isolated from a particular food so it lets us more clearly link people and Link illnesses to foods or to other sources because when we talk about foodborne disease when people get sick we don't know if it's from food or from the environment or from water or 4.com to contact with an animal so part of what what the sequencing will help us in our usual jobs of doing is figuring out what is making people sick and if it's the food what kind of food is making them sick so if I'm understanding correctly like 50 years ago we were looking a lot more for correlations between who's getting sick where and asking them all these questions about what they ate when frankly I can't remember what I ate yesterday whereas now we can use this genome sequencing technology to pinpoint a lot more about what the root cause might be yeah but we still need those interviews with sick people you absolutely need it need that if you just have the sequencing data you may make some guesses you may say yeah this is sort of organism that we've gotten of cattle but you know that person may have gotten sick because the cattle feces got into the water or got into the environment and they got it from eating parsley so you really need to talk to sick people and you need to talk to them quickly and you need to get good information from them have they recently traveled abroad and did they bring this back with them was it something they ate here in the United States or did they have a backyard flock and that's how they got it so this interviews are incredibly important and we're trying to devise better systems we have really fairly rudimentary epidemiologic systems for gathering this data from people and for transmitting it nationally some of that data we're still getting I hate to say it by fax and by email so we're trying to build electronic systems so that we get more of that rich information that health department's go to the trouble of getting and so that we can collate it and try to figure out not just the outbreaks but all those other illnesses that are the vast majority of illnesses that occur well okay and another question I have for Frank is beyond that that new sequencing technology blockchain is another tool that we're using in food safety making it possible to trace products back to their source so tell us a little bit about how that works very promising how many of the audience have heard of blockchain technology lots of you first of all blockchain is not Bitcoin and it's not necessarily cryptocurrency it happens to be the technology platform that those cryptocurrencies are utilizing but it's really a new and different way of sharing digital information a very secure immutable and trusted way basically is its defined it's a distributed digital ledger that means that if you have a copy of information that information is converted to an alphanumeric sequence called the hash and that information is then shared with other participants in a network often referred to as nodes everybody sees one version that's why it's considered a distributed ledger and agrees to that version if you want to change it everybody that saw and agreed to it has to agree to those changes that's why it's often said it's immutable it's hard to change your hack and it's allowing these complex works to form and share information and do business transactions very rapidly entrusted so it scales trust it also has a feature that we call it democratizes information cuz a lot of the data systems today are very linear in siloed in nature so you get in and share information a very linear silent form generally there's a central authority they kind of get smarter than everyone else and they benefit in a blockchain network everybody can get smarter together it's a decentralized and so that's why we say it democratizes or shares information we've been doing some pilots and they're very promising we actually did one pilot here in the US with sliced mangoes we took a package of sliced mangoes we did a traceback exercises I asked my team I literally put them on a table like this and said trace back exercise starts now trace these mangoes back to farm how long do you think it took us to trace a package of sliced mangoes back to farm anybody want to guess we know we're four weeks into it and we're working on romaine in 2006 spinach it took health officials around two weeks it generally takes a long time because I think everyone in this audience knows traceability is generally by law one step up one step back still a lot of paper records very lengthy difficult process well it took our team six days 18 hours and 26 minutes to trace back now people laugh and I say well it's better than a lot of folks but it's still too slow we did a pilot with blockchain when we worked with our suppliers and they work with their suppliers to capture information at the farm at the processing facility at the distribution center and we did a live demo in front of some media reporters we were able to scan a package of mangoes and trace back to source farms in 2.2 seconds its food traceability at the speed of thought and so dr. Griffin as I heard you speak about the optimism and how things are going to get better I believe that in the near future it won't take four weeks to trace back origins of the bet of a package of bagged salad I think you'll scan a QR code on a bagged salad and find out where it came from well that's encouraging and we're hearing that there's some pretty great new technologies that are not on the horizon that are already here and that are always changing so turning to Julie how are we training the next generation of leaders in food safety Wow well there are many of them in the audience today certainly so one of the things here at Michigan State University for those that you don't know well first of all we have a lot of strength and food safety all across this university and so one program which is sponsoring us tonight is the online master science of food safety program which is a fully online program designated specifically to Train Future Leaders so we have faculty from academia from industry from government and our students represent all of those factors as well they're usually working professionals in the food industry and learning multidisciplinary approaches to food safety and the other thing I would add to that that beyond the knowledge base the program is really designed and the staff who's an awesome staff is really working hard on building the networks between different people in the food safety realm so you can imagine not anyone in the room but sometimes there's contentious relationships between certain sectors of people who lay out food safety like potentially if you work in the government forces if you work and somewhere else and I can you know you can see those relationships building and greater understanding and greater co-op cooperation that happens through that program too so I think that's really outstanding then I'll just say certainly across this university because of our strength and food broadly there's all sorts of development across this institution both from basic discovery that happens and basic research and understanding pathogenesis and detection methods and how do how to help get bacteria off of lettuce and detective work quickly how to talk about it so in the social sciences realm and how to work through that communications as well so the one real strengths I think here too is the understanding that food safety though understanding the microbiology ham and up geologist I think that's really important too but also all the many disciplines that have to come I was just gonna say to the table and to the table to help build a safe food culture so those are those are the many ways here okay I like it interdisciplinary training is a good thing I have so many more questions I'm gonna ask you one more and then we have some mic renters here James and Brett 'ln I think you guys wave it everyone right back there when you guys can kind of get on this end and we'd love to turn this to the audience so first my last question I'll turn back to Patricia and Sandra and I just wanted to go back to the fact that we really hear about problems related to foodborne illness in the news so what I'm wondering is how have investigations of foodborne illness outbreaks helped consumers or how can they help consumers know what we need to do to protect ourselves and is there really a five-second rule well al breaks clearly link illnesses to a particular food and and you need that even though outbreaks are the very very tippy top of the iceberg of all foodborne illness they provide that definitive proof that you know this particular food made these people sick and and that's really not enough what consumers need to know what industry wants to know what everyone should know is how did that food get contaminated not from dropping on the floor or else you know for us I raised my kids the wrong way yes I always had to eat anything that jumped on the floor but but but often the answer is really surprising and sometimes people are scared let's not trace it back because they're gonna find horrible stuff and we won't know what to do and the industry was like you know they'll fall apart and they want you know usually it's something very fixable and and to fix it requires a lot of people thinking about it regulatory agencies the industry microbiologist people who deal with systems so we learn a lot and also concern consumers learn from outbreaks and they also are empowered by outbreaks because we in in health departments and at CDC we we secretly like outbreaks and that's terrible to like people getting sick but but the truth is we know that the outbreak is just one example of what's happening lots and lots of times that we aren't figuring out and what I found out after the jack-in-the-box outbreak is that the consumers especially the consumers who have really suffered or their kids have suffered they also want to use the outbreaks we want to use the outbreaks to figure out what's going on to prevent other people getting sick and the consumers who have suffered feel that even more strongly than we in public health do and so consumers need to also realize that they have a big role to play they vote with their pocket and if they want things change if they are outraged by something they they can form join consumer groups they can demand things from their legislatures and they can make a difference by their by their advocacy and by what they buy I think doctor said it all but the only thing I can piggyback on to that is that the consumer I think sometimes has the have the false thought that everything is safe in the first place so by showing them or by communicating that we have foodborne illnesses or that there is need for them to they have a part to play in this and the more that they know about what the potential is out there the better off we are and the more that they can communicate to us that hey and maybe it not be anything but this is what happened to me could you please look into it so we really thrive on communication and some sort of feedback from the consumers before we can even start an investigation so so keeping consumers engaged matter salutely and listening to consumers as well well I can go on and on but does anyone in the room want to ask a question we have yeah I mean you can speak loudly and just go to but I can repeat it okay well here's James James we'll bring you the mic okay I had a question about just on the consumer level I mean just some of the foodborne illnesses and in the vegetables that we have like the lettuce if you did if the consumer just really washed with Anik microbial you know sanitizers could you remove those pathogens just on an individual level or your family isn't that something that should be if it is so then that should be education for the population so I'd be glad to take that one not from any work that I've done but I've done a lot of talking to microbiota food-safety microbiologists about this and we at CDC and I know FDA strongly advises people to wash their fruits and vegetables and what the what the food safety microbiologists have told me is that they that can reduce if there's gross contamination on if there's dirt on it you'll certainly can see it coming off and sometimes you but I don't know I buy spinach and you can see it's dirty it's nice to see that coming off and but then washing even if you use like enough chlorine that you're smelling it in your house it will reduce the amount of contamination about tenfold but that's about all you can do so if it's highly contaminated you'll reduce it tenfold but that's that might not that might not be enough to prevent you from being being sick and that the reason for that are several one is that bacteria are sticky sometimes they just stick to surfaces even when you wash them with detergent they'll just stick and people have tried a lot of detergents they also crawl inside the pores of fruits and vegetables and so they're sort of sheltered there from detergent or chlorine washes so it is important to wash your fruits and vegetables but as others have said you need more than one control point it can't just be at the consumer or the restaurant it needs to be all the way back all through the distributors and all the way back to the farm with irradiating our food help I mean why aren't we irritating more of our lettuce and other products one of the reasons is a lack of consumer acceptance or irradiation and so that keeps coming up so it because if something's irradiated it has that little label that looks a little bit scary on the packages a perjurer and there's a lot unknown and you know there are similar concepts as that refers to genetic engineering and so there is a need for consumer education you know one of the things I really thought and appreciated about this session is this roundtable because I do think we need to have a larger conversation about food as a society if you if you rewind a hundred years ago just about everyone in society would in some way shape or form be involved with food production but you fast-forward a hundred years and we go into the modern retail establishment buy food without knowing necessarily how food is produced and the technologies that are used and so I think we need a larger conversation about food as a country and there needs to be a lot more consumer education at the end of the day I think you stated at the beginning food is personal so I don't think we ever want to be in the businesses telling people what they want to eat and how they need to eat it but they do need to know a little bit more and then they need to be offered choices I couldn't agree more and I'll just add to that one of the projects with food at MSU that we're also doing is national polling looking at American attitudes on a variety of food topics from food access to labeling to trust and scientific expertise we've already seen that half of consumers so fifty percent say they rarely or never look for information about where their food was grown or how it was produced in terms of think topics like GMO is over a third 37% didn't know that all food contains genes so in a lot of these food topics we're having these policy well it seems funny to us but we're not exactly representative of the nation as a whole and we're having these big policy discussions on things like genetically modified foods that are lagging behind the science but we're keeping the public out of that conversation altogether so in order to kind of move things forward I think having these discussions listening to each other and communicating across sectors really does make a difference or hopefully will make a difference but you don't wanna hear me Yammer on so we've got another question some years ago when rick Snyder was elected governor the prison food service system was privatized in Michigan and one consequence ended up being horrible quality control and safety problems and I've got a question dr. Griffin do you know is that comment to privatization and Sandra Walker who should be regulating or controlling or supervising that kind of food service or who does and maybe that apply I'm curious about school schools also their food safety and quality so I can say a little bit about food safety and correctional institutions we recently reviewed outbreaks that occurred in correctional institutions and and there were a number of outbreaks it's interesting the types of outbreaks there many of them were quite preventable because they were caused by food thing just left out for too long which you can imagine probably occurs when you're feeding large groups of people so I think a lot of them were quite quite preventable a lot of what seemed to be good was there didn't seem to be many food handling errors because I think a lot of prisoners get trained in food safety and then they come and work in our restaurants so it's nice to know that they have a good training program and in some prisons but but what we were interested in your question like what's the regulation and we couldn't figure it out and in fact we've gotten our public health law office involved and are trying to understand more about the regulation of food safety in prisons because it's very complicated there are prisons there are federal prisons there are correctional institutions that are jails it's it's very complicated some of them are regulated in the federal way some in the state or a low local way and we think that that there definitely could be a lot of improvement okay as far as in Corrections before prior before it went private the Department of Corrections they had oversight and they hired sanitarians to do the inspections and then the thought was to privatize and that didn't quite work out for for different reasons I was actually a part of a undercover investigation to it I guess I can speak on it now because it's kind of a moot point but myself of other people from our state police we actually went to one of the facilities under the guys we made up some sort of reason to go there and they didn't know that these were state troopers and they didn't know who I was and we went around and basically asked questions and while they were asking questions I was snooping around to see you know what was going on in the place well there was a complaint we did not find sufficient information on it and this was something that was requested by the governor to find out we didn't we were disappointed we didn't find anything however later there was a scandal or whatever that caused the governor to rethink that and revert back to Corrections so the Department of Corrections has oversight and the sanitarians in any of the sanitarians or inspectors in the state of michigan followed the same food code and the Public Act 368 thank you I don't know what things are worse in the private institutions than in the public we don't we don't have sufficient information to to comment on that thank you we spent a lot of time talking about microorganisms we have not talked at all about viruses there's one virus in particular that we have a solution to and that's hepatitis A and yet it feels like the food industry or regulators are not willing to take the step of requiring immunization can I just get your thoughts on that that question is – well you know the hepatitis A we we have a lot going on with with regards to hepatitis A we can't force people to take shots we can only highly recommend them so I mean you have you know the freedom to to choose whether you you take those shots or not so as long as we have that you know that freedom we can't force people to to take the appropriate immunization shots hi there Oh your FDA colleague one of the things that comes to mind was you know several years ago we had the Castleberry class one recall and this was on the Chile and we had to continually repeat communications to consumers just we're not getting the message that they should take the get rid of the product and I know often times when there's a crisis there's a crisis management team that's put in place and they managed the communication but the question I would have is you know we're talking about consumers understanding how do we get beyond the point where we can really communicate truthfully honestly transparently to consumers such that they will change behaviors or will react to the information where we're putting out at least as it relates to recalls there I think if you're if you just see how many recalls are occurring they're a really good thing because you're pulling affected product off the market but there is a bit of recall fatigue you just wonder if people are paying attention to these things and they hear something on the news and you wonder if they really hone in and pay attention and so you know I don't think that everything in life is solved by technology but I think technology will enable us reaching the right persons at the right time with the right message I'll give you an example in our Sam's Club business where we have a record of what members have purchased if a manufacturer it is Institute's a recall we will notify those members generally about 70% of them within 24 hours of being notified ourselves and we do that variety of ways if they've declared their emails will contact with my email if we don't have their email we'll try to reach them by phone and use a few other methods and so when we have a record of what someone purchased I think in terms of where the world is going where we're going to be buying and ordering more products online and picking up at the grocery store we're seeing that we have a lot more records now of who purchased what and so we can target those recall communications and if you think about what I just mentioned about blockchain technology I think that'd be another way to actually push out think about flour flour has been implicated in a few outbreaks over the past couple of years imagine having a code on a package and if you're in doubt instead of throw it out you can go scan the code and say involved in the recall or not involved in the recall and so I think technology will make things easier we're just bombarded with so much information I think we've got to figure out how to do more targeted information that counts to who needs to know it thank you so much for this very interesting talk a comment about root cause humans are about a hundred percent a 99 percent microbiome genetically we are genetically 1 percent of what we think we are and so root cause also has to do with the microbiome and the incredibly generally poor diet of Americans and so what you see what you're seeing as the these outbreaks is a peak of you know is the peak of a huge iceberg of disease based on the loss of diversity in the microbiome so it isn't just the bugs it's it's us yeah I think I think that's an interesting point I when I first started at CDC we would investigate outbreaks and we look at the risk factors for people getting getting an infection and you'd you'd investigate a lot of times it was single state outbreaks it would be sort of a outbreak in a group everybody ate the food or a lot of people ate different parts of the food and the attack rate might be 30% it wasn't a hundred percent there so there are a lot of people who ate the food who didn't get sick but we could still show that people who ate the implicated food were more likely to eat then people who didn't get sick but but the the question we didn't focus on as much was what protected those other people and that's a really interesting question and I think the microbiome can help start as we start to be able to explore that a little more can help us to answer the question the question is you know if you have a really healthy diet if you do certain other things what you know can you help to protect yourself we certainly know that even if you took an antibiotic a month ago you you're screwing up your microbiome and you're more likely to get sick from that salmonella that you swallow today than they've done the other person but but but I think we'll be able to explore the the the power of our microbiome in the future a lot better than we could could have decades ago hi thanks for coming to talk to us today so I have a question about this using the block chain for increasing consumer transparency and so I guess this kind of breaks outside of food security and into other options that consumers might have when shopping such as the labels that we just kind of take for granted now like what is actually Fairtrade and what is actually you know I guess I'm not on the GMO train but for those who are on the GMO train and things along those lines and so whether it's coming up with these new apps or I get or whatever possibilities might lie in the future what do you think is the role on make helping consumers make decisions to buy products that they would like to buy that support their values whether it's again food security related or other things like buying slow fashion or whatever I don't know pick a buzzword well I think technologies like blockchain will allow you to document a lot more about the food and what the customer I want to know so that if they're interested they can get to it there's only so much you can put on a label and there's a gazillion claims so I think a couple of things one is access to information that you wouldn't necessarily find on a label if you were so inclined and interested in it but more importantly to me is verifying that these claims are legitimate because making a claim is one thing and quite easy you can slap a label on a product but is there a record of transactions that substantiate if you're claiming it's organic it's organic when I talk about blockchain in front of national audience I always like to say do you realize that some people say there's more organic food consumed in the world that is produced in the world and a lot of people are buying it so being able to substantiate that the claims are legitimate but and I think what consumers would want to know and their values and belief system will change over time and so it'll be a platform that allow you we are undergoing some work right now asking our customers what does food transparency mean to you because if I asked you to define it and I asked somebody on this side of the room that might be very different and so interesting closely in contact with your customers knowing what they want to know and when they want to know it and then have a mechanism of you know sharing that information with them in a very authentic incredible way and I'll just add to that labels is a topic that we're very interested in with this entire initiative because as I'm sure we've all recognized there are more and more logos popping up on our products than ever before some are useful some are meaningless I just bought a box of water that said GMO free and I thought I don't really want any genes in my water and if there are I think I should know why so this is a great question did you pay more for it I'm sure I did I've got some things I want to sell you afternoon I just have something to mention I'm I did my graduate work and what causes a consumer to make a food purchasing decision and I have been sitting around waiting I'm many many years retired why they haven't come out with some guidelines on eating cooked romaine lettuce because it would be so much safer when I was in Italy I had cooked romaine lettuce pie and it was delicious anything you eat there is good I'm just saying I'm entering a question for Frank can you speak to what the industry is doing to collaborate so when there is a food outbreak whether you're an Amazon or Walmart or Kroger how you guys work together or standardized things so that you can reach the public faster well we do a lot of benchmarking and sharing of methodologies and practices we often the folks in interstate that food safety is in a competitive issue I think most of us in retail and food service believe that so for example if there's a peanut butter scare it doesn't matter whose peanut butter it is people are going to stop buying it and they don't necessarily pay attention to the brands and they don't think well I won't buy it at Walmart sell it at someone else so we just share information through industry associations and at meetings and conferences but you know if you were here for dr. griffin's presentation she talked about the need to actually learn from these incidents and cascade that information and use some other models I still think it's a major opportunity for the food industry in general PCA happened in 2008 some people say oh my goodness Salmonella and peanut butter as a microbiologist that didn't surprise us because there was a peanut butter outbreak before that there was one documented in Australia romaine fresh leafy greens that's not necessarily or surprise but we don't necessarily know what happened and how I got contaminated so there's a lot of opportunities I think for us as an industry to collaborate in a smarter and more thorough manner to really get down to the lessons learned and then cascade that to everyone and say let's go out and fix this and prevent this from ever happening again you talk about industry but I think it's also part of the responsibility of regulators as well to collaborate with industry we had the workshop this morning to talk about changing food safety culture for regulators it's not just the food operators but the regulars regulators have to change their behavior and open up the lines of communication because we have to work together if I could follow up on that piece on regulation given the increased role of regulation and food safety due to the Food Safety Modernization Act I've been curious and I even wrote it down where do you anticipate more changes related to the traceability of foodborne illness and produce and the role of rapid Diagnostics traceability I could speak to maybe we'll get to diagnostic to dr. Griffin but the traceability you know 2006 there was a large spinach outbreak it took a long time for health officials to trace it back at the end of the day it was one producer one day's production one lot number fast Ford what is it 12 years later and we're having a similar scenario and it doesn't seem like our ability to track and trace in real time back to the farm has gotten much better I will tell you that I don't think we'll go another 12 years and it'll be in the same place I think consumers are going to demand it I think regulators are going to know start paying attention and demand it I think the industry is going to wake up and say trace abilities for business and it's good for people and so I think we'll see a lot of acceleration and better tracking and tracing tools enabled by new and emerging technologies I think that's gonna happen over the next few years and that's a really good thing for the food system because not only is it good for food safety the benefits that we'll get at a better digital tracking of how food flows from farm-to-table the benefits for food safety are just the tip of the iceberg the real benefits are flowing products more efficiently taking hours or days out of transport that's a day a shelf life you give back to the customer you know fresher food products reduce food waste more sustainable production and so you look around us in society everything is becoming digitized food is the last frontier for a variety of reasons margins below but I think we've now hit this cost model structure that I think now's the time that things will start becoming a little bit more digital out from the flows is really exciting I mean we haven't had something like that in this country before it was passed in 2011 and it was so new it took and took it five years before it started to be implemented and it's still not fully implemented but it's going to be really looking at the processes involved with the production of our produce our processed foods and it's also looking at imported foods so FDI has has a really big task here and industry also has a big task it's going to be hard for everybody but I agree with Frank we're going to end up with them in a much better place with better traceability and better safer processes and add to that that FISMA is incredibly good as far as standardization it's forcing industry to adhere to a blueprint they have to have a food safety plan so it gives them some direction on gathering information and knowing their business so they'll be able to provide the the answers if there is a trace back they'll be able to do that and it's not just the the big players but the mom and pops as well and that only protects them and down the road but there's still a big role for Public Health and a big role for investigations we you know we had we passed the hasip role for meat and poultry inspection in 1996 and we're still you know we've solved some of the meat and poultry problems I talked about the Listeria problem we're having less a 157 from me you don't hear about this hamburger outbreaks anymore do you so a lot of things have gotten better but we're still having problems with chicken and there are problems with Salmonella in in meat and so it's it's a process and it's you know better regulations and better investigations figuring out the problems and new problems are always coming in we're never going to have it all figured out because the microbes are you know they're gonna win I mean unless we let's just keep up with it all the time they're very ingenious they're always find a way around any system we have and so we have to be more and more alert to find those new problems that are coming in and to stop them sooner I've got a question for dr. funk so say we do the route the trace back and we find the source and we do a root cause analysis and it's on-farm so what are some of the opportunities and some of the barriers to on-farm food safety and what's the role the veterinarian in all this well maybe I'll start with the last question so I mean certainly and I mentioned this before the veterinarian has a major role in food safety and farm both and both in you know healthy animals to some what to this idea the microbiome like healthier animals or you know likely less likely some evidence that they're less likely to have other challenges as well and also to help producers make decisions about good control of things like residues and are the things it is true right now that there are not a lot of on farm intervention some vaccine usage in poultry certainly is going on but and but it is true that there's not a lot of work and actual intervention at the farm level at this time and I think there's some barriers I think one of them is you know producers fully understanding food safety I don't think that there's a lot of understanding about things they can't see right they see disease and animals and so they understand pathogens from that standpoint when it harms their animals and it harms their production they see illness they get that but this whole idea of this thing being in there and not seeing it there's some certain barriers like to your point about potentially vaccine expanding vaccines they're just some berries about without getting into the details about how animal vaccines are regulated and the expectations and concerns about how those vaccines have been developed and and whether they can be moved over for other purposes because there are some Anila vaccines for animals but they're all targeted at controlling clinical DS and animals and that's a really different thing than controlling a sub clinic you know an infection by salmonella that isn't showing any disease those are different things and there's certain I would love to see large massive trials back because I think there's some things that would happen it would be improving but there's some barriers from regulatory barriers that kind of make that difficult right now I think if we could there could be some regulatory fixes to help with that and I also think that you know straight up so when when I was a young veterinarian a baby veterinarian and I first went into practice it was the first time part that like so I was a swine veterinarian so to give you some context it was when first pork Quality Assurance came out so for those you know that it was it's a it was a voluntary program for producers to help decrease antibiotics or other chemicals being in in meats and just helping them understand how to have good quality product and it was at the time where first the processor said oh we're not going to buy your product unless you're poor quality certified and so I spent a lot of time with producers doing that and honestly producers are really open but they need the education and they need the and also quite frankly I mean an incentive as an incentive right and so so I think all those things have to be aligned the financials pieces have to be aligned the right intervention so producers really feel like they can do something that's meaningful needs to be aligned and and the right tool sets right so we've got the regulatory pieces the money pieces and the right tools are all parts of that but those barriers just a quick question is a radiation could is it potentially a silver bullet and if not is it is it due primarily to consumer resistance well I don't think it's a silver bullet because I don't think it's feasible for everything and I think there are logistical challenges it could be one tool in the tool bag if consumers you know gave it a social license to be used for example of you were really concerned about a particular product you might irradiated for at-risk consumers but I don't think it's a silver bullet for everything and at the end of the day you're going to have to take that food out of a package and prepare it somewhere and so it's subject to contamination again some foods that the way we like to eat them if you irradiated them it would change the quality of the food so much that you wouldn't want to eat it there are other foods that are very amenable to radiation and yet as Frank said earlier people don't accept it and we have had some plants in the United States that have been irradiation plants that have gone out of business because they couldn't get enough consumers to buy the product even though it was a good product I think it needs a different name you know irradiation sounds scary call it something friendly I think there was someone here had another question and maybe this is primarily for Frank but I know a lot of what we've been discussing has been on more of the domestic food production level when it comes to internet international products and products were importing especially produce from 100 countries Plus that we import across the United States here I guess I was more interested in what is the kind of current status of the global food safety initiative what maybe is Walmart doing and using that tool beyond the regulations beyond some of that self-governance or using the self-governance of that global food safety initiative given that you were on the committee and still run chaired the committee in years ass so I don't know how much the audience knows about the global food safety initiative but you know about a decade ago there were these food scares happening and retailers were asking themselves what can we do about it and most responsible retailers had food safety teams and we go out and do audits of establishments or suppliers and we realized that there was a lot of redundancy different companies going out and auditing suppliers doing it by their own standards sometimes not necessarily a recognized food safety standard and we had talked to some of our suppliers no exaggeration they were being audited 39 to 42 times a year by different entities at different standards well you know food service company a says this and retailer B says that and so we came together under the auspices of a group called the consumer goods forum based out of Paris and a few of the big international retailers created something called the global food safety initiative where we created a process to benchmark these international food safety standards and recognize the best of the best and we said to all of our suppliers if you get certified to one of these standards it'll be recognized by all so we went out and did that in 2008 there was a famous Walmart Deere supplier a letter that people like to refer to and we sent it to our suppliers and it was a big deal because suppliers said we can't do this it's gonna add cause that's gonna be very difficult over the years we've measured the effects of that GFSI requirement and we've published two papers in the Journal of food protection and by and large we've seen a reduction in the number of recalls if we track food manufacturing facilities for years before GFSI and after GFSI we've seen that there's a dramatic reduction in their likelihood of being involved in a food recall we did a more quantitative global survey along with some other partners and we said and there's quantifiable evidence published in a peer-reviewed journal that said it improved food safety performance and those establishments and enhanced regulatory compliance that it strengthened their food safety culture so there is a role for the private sector to enforce good you industry self standards on suppliers now having stated that we do not believe replaces regulation you know there's a very appropriate role but at the end of the day it's industry's responsibility to here the food that they're producing and selling is safe we appreciate the regulatory oversight in the structure and the guidance but I think it's made a big difference we then went further and took these standards and divided them into three sets you know thirty percent of the original standard another 70 percent of totality and total certification for those emerging markets and small suppliers we knew they can never meet that full certification we call that the global markets program and we've gone out in countries developing countries around the world where we're doing business and put suppliers on this steps their program to be able to achieve full certification for us and retailers that have been already on this you know path it's really enhanced our ability to comply with FISMA we find that FISMA compliance is very easy because we've been on this 10-year journey with the global food safety initiative from Walmart well no I mean outside of Walmart so other companies I think the most most responsible large multinational organizations will be leveraging the global food safety initiative but I don't know what percentage of total suppliers for us it that you're if you're a private brand supplier for Walmart it's 100 percent you know if you're producing a risk but we consider a more risky category it's 100 percent I can't speak for other retailers but I think it's made a big difference and in terms of food safety but if I could just share one thing I think it's wonderful but it's one of these things that I hope you got out of the talk which is to me they're generic food safety strategies everybody's got to have a preventative control plan everybody has to do a hazard analysis everybody needs to get an audit I think the next wave of progress is exactly what you saw today with its pathogen food product specific kind of thoughtful interventions that are gonna reduce the burden of pulled disease on chicken parts it's going to reduce listeriosis and deli meats it's not the generic approaches it's the very specific approaches you have to do both but we're at least where our program is evolving to it's a very specific commodity pathogen specific approach to how we're reducing risk for our consumers with the decreased use of antibiotic and animal feed has there been a change in the type of diseases being seen in those animals now I don't so I'll take that one I don't think I can take all species into account so but I can speak kind of broadly and generally certainly with changes in Anna microbial use producers had to find some different solutions in different settings and so it's been mostly a producer by producer decision making process about how to it address those changes I know I've talked to many producers and some depending on the production system though I you know their minds they've really had very little problem right they haven't had issues there are some producers who had to change some things about their production flow right I can talk from a standpoint of pigs you know it's younger like like people younger pigs are more likely to get sick just like your kids right you know and so they had to do some different things around maybe some of their younger pig production to help protect those younger animals in a different way right just you know same thing you think about your kids but in many cases producers were able to find solutions ready to go a different way so I I could speak more from from swine than any other than any out of the sector but you know the producers found a way right they found a way so I think many of them found different approaches and tried to take different approaches in some cases and I think that answers are different based on system right some producers found maybe weaning pigs at an older age some producers maybe decided to use more biologics some changed the way they moved their pigs around and so you know it was dependent on farm by farm where they made those kind of changes but they've been able to figure that out oh I think we've probably reached about the end of our program would anyone I'd want to go down the line maybe say a couple closing comments about where we're headed with food safety or something that you're especially excited about I'd echo the optimism I think a lot of good things are happening and as you can see many days a lot of things are getting better so I I think it's I think optimism and one of the things that I've seen in my times in this time is I think it's really important is don't know the advancement of Technology many things that come up the advancement technology and greater collaboration right more technology so I think those are really positive aspects be a positive aspect is that we are so science-based and I think more and more the industry is really looking to science for answers of what you know what will be good control measures what works what what doesn't work and I think the other thing that I think is exciting is that compared with 1020 mainly 30 years ago consumers are so much more informed and interested in food safety than they used to be and I think that's really important because I think consumers still don't realize how powerful they are because a lot of the power for change comes from consumers I think from a regulators perspective I see nothing but good things happening in the future bhisma is not the end-all by no means but I see that looking at the federal sector they are reaching out I see more collaboration between state inspectors local inspectors industry other stakeholders groups whether it's other associations and there's just more collaboration on now and I just see that continuing in the future well like my colleagues I'm very optimistic about the future of food safety and our further reduce the burden of foodborne disease based on science and technology and knowledge and education and culture but I'd like to close with the challenge to the audience I like that we're having this conversation about food and I like that society is having a larger conversation about food but there's still a lot of people that know very little about how food is produced and I do think we have to have a greater national dialogue on food if you think about where we're going your 2050 close to 10 billion people on the planet we're not going to be able to produce our way out of it we might want to leverage some science-based technologies and in some circles science may not be viewed favorably and so I don't know if you've heard the principle of three degrees as a food safety professional when I think three degrees I generally think that's the difference between a fully cooked or undercooked beef patty but in this context that means that each and every one of you can go out and reach people in your circle and if you each reach 20 people and they in turn go reach 20 people and they in turn go out and reach a 20 number of people we're now starting to reach hundreds of thousands if not millions of people and we need to start having this larger conversation so I'd ask you to go out and in your circle start having this same dialogue that we've had here today I love ending on that note because we know by 2050 if we're going to meet global food demand we have to increase agricultural yield by 70 to 100 percent and that means changing our relationship with food it means changing the way that we produce harvest consume waste food at every step along the process so I hope that we can come away I mean you guys have given me a lot to think about I think the audience would feel the same way and maybe you've had some new ideas as well I want to you know first thank all of you for coming and joining us tonight I want it I hope you'll join me in thanking our panelists tonight for giving us our time and of course thanks to everyone at food at MSU and the MSU food safety program for being a part of this as well and I hope you'll continue to visit us to have these conversations if you were to visit our website which is food MSU edu we update information we have another our table coming up in June has to do with food in the law and we also have a space if you didn't have a chance to ask your question today we have a little widget like a little bar where you can ask your own questions as they relate to food safety or any topic and we'll try to match that with an expert to provide some information as well so I hope you'll continue being part of our conversation and thank you all so much [Applause] you

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