Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
July 28, 2013 – July 31, 2013

Symposia Supported by the IAFNS Technical Committee on Food Microbiology

Symposium 1: “Culture Independent Diagnostics”
Monday, July 29, 10:30am – 12:00pm

Most diagnoses of foodborne infections are currently done by culturing specimens from patients. However, methods that do not require isolation of an organism by culture are increasingly being implemented by clinical laboratories for some pathogens, e.g. enzyme immune assays (EIAs) for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) and Campylobacter. Molecular methods that simultaneously detect the presence of the most common bacterial, viral and parasitic diarrheal pathogens without culture have been developed and the first are being considered by FDA for licensing and will be available commercially shortly.

Since all public health laboratory surveillance systems including PulseNet and NARMS use data from the characterization of cultured isolates, the introduction of culture independent diagnostic methods in clinical practice will drastically change our ability to detect, investigate and control outbreaks, follow trends to document the effect of public health interventions to prevent foodborne infections and antimicrobial resistance of foodborne pathogens.

This symposium presents the problem and discusses the implications of this new technology to the food regulatory agencies and the food industry. The symposium also addresses possible solutions to the problems including opportunities to strengthen the surveillance system and food safety in general.

Moderators: Peter Gerner-Smidt and Les Smoot

Culture Independent Diagnostic Tests for Diagnosis of GI infections: An Overview
Mario J. Marcon, Ohio State University College of Medicine, Columbus, Ohio

Culture Independent Diagnostic Testing – The End of Surveillance for Foodborne Infections?
John Besser, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA

Pathogen Testing in a Public Health Setting: FSIS Perspective
Philip Bronstein, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC

Symposium 2: “What is Dry Sanitation? What is Dry Cleaning?”
Wednesday, July 31, 1:30pm – 3:30pm

Pathogen contamination of dry ingredients has increased the focus on dry sanitation, dry cleaning and what it means to maintain a dry facility. There are many types of products considered to be dry products and the way in which they are handled can be different for each product. Peanut butter and chocolate are handled very differently than flour and spices. Additionally, recent recalls have involved multiple product types that were produced 1 or 2 years earlier but implicated from being made on the same processing equipment as the contaminated product. This raises questions of how we define microbiological lots in a dry facility and how we validate dry cleaning cycles to prove ‘clean’ and create lot separation.

There are many questions the industry has. What is dry sanitation? What is the difference between dry cleaning and dry sanitation? Does dry sanitation apply only to facilities where no water is introduced for cleaning? Or can it apply to a facility that wet cleans a couple times a year? How do we validate a dry clean sanitation cycle? A microbiological lot has traditionally been considered as wet clean to wet clean. How do we define a lot for dry cleaning? Does push through of product work? What kinds of dry cleaning techniques have been tested or validated? While we can’t answer all of these questions in one symposium, it’s important for the industry to start discussing this topic. This symposium will cover the topic of dry sanitation, dry cleaning, validation strategies, dry cleaning approaches and how we might start to define microbiological lots.

Moderator: Stefanie Gilbreth

What is Dry Cleaning vs. Dry Sanitation? What Defines a Dry Plant?
Don Zink, FDA/CFSAN, College Park, MD

Best Practices for Cleaning and Sanitizing Nut Butter Processing Equipment
Stephen Grove, Illinois Institute of Technology, Bedford Park, IL

Environmental Hygiene Control in a Dry Environment
Scott Burnett, MOM Brands, Lakeville, MN

How Do You Validate Dry Sanitation?
Deann Akins-Lewenthal, ConAgra Foods, Omaha, NE

Roundtable: “Current Controversies in Food Safety”
Monday, July 29, 3:30pm – 5:00pm

This interactive roundtable is intended to engender lively discussion of important topics in food safety. It is assumed audience participants will have a basic understanding of the unresolved issues surrounding the topics in the symposium. The session will cover three topics: “Is there Scientific Evidence that Organic Produce is as Microbiologically Safe as Conventional Produce?”; “The Food Industry has Historically not Used Food Safety in a Competitive Manner. Should Food Safety Become a Marketing Tool?”; “Listeria Mulligan – To Have or Not to Have?” Each topic will include a 9 min presentation in support of (PRO) followed by a 9 min presentation in opposition to (CON) the proposed question. Each speaker will have 3 min for extemporaneous rebuttals. A 6 min question/answer session will then follow to allow for audience participation. The session is intended to be informative, lively and humorous. We would like to have electronic gizmos which the audience can use to vote Yes/No/Undecided; one takes a vote at the beginning, and again at the end to see whether people’s views have changed.

Moderators: Marguerite Neill and Joe Shebuski

Topics of Discussion
Is There Scientific Evidence That Organic Produce is as Microbiologically Safe as Conventional Produce?

  • Pro:  Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN
  • Con: Linda Harris, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA

The Food Industry Has Historically Not Used Food Safety in a Competitive Manner. Should Food Safety Become a Marketing Tool?

  • Pro: Doug Powell, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS
  • Con: Mike Robach, Cargill, Incorporated, Minneapolis, MN

Listeria Mulligan – To Have or Not to Have?

  • Pro: Joseph Meyer, Covance Laboratories, Inc., Monona, WI
  • Con: David Acheson, Leavitt Partners, LLC, Washington, DC