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A Collaboration between the IAFNS Technical Committees on Food Microbiology and Sodium View the Published Workshop Proceedings

Workshop Summary

Extensive debate continues on how to lower sodium intakes of the population given that previous campaigns, related to labeling and education, have had minimal impact. The workshop objective was to connect the dots with the nutrition and public health community on why sodium reduction has been so challenging due in large part to the variety of microbial and functional roles sodium plays across different food categories. The workshop provided greater knowledge and appreciation of these challenges. The workshop broadened the dialogue and presented what we have learned in the last 5 years since the release of the Institute of Medicine’s Strategies to Reduce Sodium Intake in the United States Report about the functional challenges with sodium reduction. Speakers included the USDA Undersecretary and Chief Scientist Catherine Woteki, PhD, and FDA Office of Food Additive Safety scientist, Kasey Heintz, and experts from the Monell Institute, academia, and industry. The workshop provided an opportunity for nearly 75 experts including microbiologists, food scientists, public health professionals, and nutritionists to come together and discuss current initiatives, potential technologies, and how their challenges vary between sectors. Attendees included experts from FDA, USDA, CDC, NIH, Health Canada, the New York City Department of Health, Institute of Medicine Food & Nutrition Board, American Heart Association, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Institute of Food Technology, among others. The recommendation from the nutrition community has been to lower sodium in incremental steps so better taste acceptance is achieved in the lower sodium product. However, from a microbial food safety perspective, small changes in a product’s formulation requires that a new process validation is undertaken by the manufacturer for the new product formulation which requires sufficient time and resources depending on the product category. Discussion focused on the challenges faced when reducing or replacing sodium in foods, including technical challenges such as flavor profiles, unwanted chemical reactions and changes in texture; microbiological challenges such as decreasing water activity and reducing growth of pathogens and food spoilage organisms; and regulatory challenges and implications associated with replacing sodium chloride. Questions raised during the workshop wondered if consumers are willing to accept shorter shelf life for lower sodium levels and if an unintended consequence is increased food waste? In the effort to safely reduce sodium, the experts made recommendations on where scientific research is needed in order to make recommendations leading to improved public health. The workshop provided an outline of potential next steps in how to approach this enormous public health challenge in a systematic manner. With such a complex task at hand, even small steps are incredibly important and are the most realistic way to make progress.

Videos and Presentations

IAFNS experienced technical difficulties with the audio of the some of the presentations filmed during the workshop. The audio has been edited to elevate the quality as much as possible, but we apologize for any difficulty you have in hearing the presentations. Introductory Remarks from Moderators Christine Taylor, FDA (retired) & Michael Doyle, University of Georgia Sodium Reduction – A Practical Path Forward Kasey Heintz, FDA CFSAN USDA Catherine Woteki, USDA

Non-Microbiological Functional Roles of Sodium in Food

Introduction to Functional and Quality Applications of Sodium Kathy Groves, Leatherhead Food Research Texture/Mouthfeel in Grain Products  Janice Johnson, Cargill, Incorporated Salt Taste and Substitutes Paul Breslin, Monell Institute Regulatory Considerations (Claims / Standards of Identity) Kantha Shelke, Corvus Blue Case Study: Soup Patricia Zecca, Campbell Soup Company Case Study: Regulatory and Policy Considerations of Sodium Reduction in Dairy Foods Edith Wilkin, Leprino Foods Co. Case Study: Salt Substitutes Janice Johnson, Cargill, Incorporated Discussant Panel Moderated by Kathy Groves, Leatherhead Food Research

Microbiological Roles of Sodium in Food

Introduction: Salt and Sodium Preservatives for Microbiological Stability Michael Doyle, University of Georgia Processed (Cured and Deli) Meats  Jeff Sindelar, University of Wisconsin-Madison Microbial Considerations in Reduced Sodium Cheese and Other Dairy Products Kathleen Glass, University of Wisconsin-Madison Functional Role of Sodium in Refrigerated Dough and Refrigerated Dough Spoilage and Waste Dave Domingues, General Mills Inc. Case Study: Meat Peter Taormina, Smithfield Foods Case Study: Cheese/Dairy Bill Graves, National Dairy Council Discussant Panel Moderated by Michael Doyle, University of Georgia Closing Remarks Christine Taylor, FDA (retired) & Michael Doyle, University of Georgia

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Past Events

Moving Forward After Over 40 Years of Guidance: Innovation and Partnerships to Reduce Sodium Intake

Virtual, Event

In this session, an update on FDA efforts to support sodium reduction in foods will be provided. An overview of why and how sodium is used in foods, tools for its reduction, and possible ways to maximize the value of sodium-contributing foods will be covered.

Register here. 

Read more about Moving Forward After Over 40 Years of Guidance: Innovation and Partnerships to Reduce Sodium Intake

Invitation-Only Dialogue: The World Health Organization’s 2022 NUGAG Draft Guidelines on Non-Sugar Sweeteners: Exploring the Recommendations

Virtual, Event

Join the Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS), the International Food Information Council (IFIC), and the Calorie Control Council (CCC) for this invitation-only event to explore the science, the recommendations, and the implications with Dr. John Sievenpiper of the University of Toronto. As this is intended to be a dialogue, representatives from FDA and other authoritative experts are invited to contribute.

Read more about Invitation-Only Dialogue: The World Health Organization’s 2022 NUGAG Draft Guidelines on Non-Sugar Sweeteners: Exploring the Recommendations

IAFP 2022 Annual Meeting

Pittsburgh, PA

Each year, the International Association for Food Protection hosts an Annual Meeting, providing attendees with information on current and emerging food safety issues, the latest science, innovative solutions to new and recurring problems, and the opportunity to network with thousands of food safety professionals from around the globe.

Read more about IAFP 2022 Annual Meeting

“Crash Course” on Design and Interpretation of Gut Microbiome Research

Virtual, Event

Effective application of gut microbiome research requires clinicians to critically appraise methodological elements of research when interpreting results. In this webinar, an overview of best practices for designing and conducting diet-microbiome research in humans will be provided. Topics will include not only intervention study designs but also recruitment tips, sampling methods, important metadata to collect, and more. 

Read more about “Crash Course” on Design and Interpretation of Gut Microbiome Research

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Each year, the International Association for Food Protection hosts an Annual Meeting, providing attendees with information on current and emerging food safety issues, the latest science, innovative solutions to new and recurring problems, and the opportunity to network with thousands of food safety professionals from around the globe.

This year, the IAFNS Food Microbiology Committee is supporting the three sessions at the IAFP Annual Meeting.

How Relevant is Finished Product Testing for Pathogens to Public Health Outcomes? Expand

Monday, August 1, 2022 from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM ET

FDA's final rule "Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food" (the CGMP & PC rule) requires a facility that has identified hazards requiring preventive controls to verify that the preventive controls are consistently implemented and are effectively and significantly minimizing or preventing the hazard. Facilities also need to show the product has not been recontaminated after the preventive control. Verification activities can include physical measurements of the critical limits, product design measurements, environmental and/or product testing for indicator organisms or pathogens, which depend on the preventive control(s) and risks. However, many producers are asked by their customers to test for a multitude of pathogens in their finished product and their environment, to satisfy requirements for lot acceptance, regardless of whether the tests are relevant or even validated for the matrix in question. As a result, excessive testing diverts resources that could be focused on the real defined risks as well as causes products to be rejected to then be reworked or thrown away/wasted when they would not cause a public health issue. In addition, consumers may lose confidence in the food industry when recalls are announced that had no public health implications. This roundtable will discuss criteria for choosing organisms for testing finished product and/or the environment, debate if testing finished product vs. using HACCP monitoring, verification, and validation data are better indicators for lot acceptance, how human behavior fits into public health relevance, what should be recalled when no imminent public health risk has been identified, and whether zero tolerance should be the focus when testing.

Speakers:
• Ben Warren, US Food and Drug Administration
• Martin Duplessis, Health Canada
• Roy Betts, Campden BRI
• Heather Carleton, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• Pamela Wilger, Post Consumer Brands Whole Genome Sequencing: Challenging and Defining Foodborne Pathogen Species, Risk, and Virulence Expand

Tuesday, August 2, 2022 from 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM ET

Whole genome sequencing (WGS) is now the gold standard for foodborne pathogen identification, epidemiological investigations, and broader studies in microbial ecology. WGS has redefined the foodborne disease outbreak landscape through improved time-to detection resulting in fewer cases. It has further increased resolution of foodborne disease outbreaks by identifying smaller outbreaks that may have historically been overlooked. WGS advances have influenced detection targets, confirmation procedures, and risk assessments. WGS has and continues to redefine genus and species classifications for some foodborne pathogens, as well as provide greater insight into virulence factors. While WGS has advanced understanding of all foodborne pathogens, this technology currently has varying utility among foodborne pathogens. The case studies presented in this symposium are strategically selected to investigate the variation in use and utility of WGS as an epidemiologic and phylogenetic tool. Leading experts will present state-of-the-art case studies of Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella enterica, and Bacillus cereus as representatives of the spectrum of advancements and limitations of WGS technology. This symposium will showcase current WGS impacts on defining or challenging current understanding of a species, its impact on regulation, insight into virulence capacity, and implications for the private sector.

Speakers:

WGS of Listeria monocytogenes: Advancements, Limitations, and Challenges
Martin Wiedmann, Cornell University WGS of Salmonella enterica: Perspectives on Strengths and Limitations
Dayna Harhay, USDA Agricultural Research Service WGS of the Bacillus cereus Group: Advancements and Challenges
Sophia Johler, University of Zurich Application of New Technologies for Improved Food Safety Expand

Wednesday, August 3, 2022 from 8:30 AM to 10:00 AM ET

The announcement of FDA's "New Era of Smarter Food Safety" initiative in 2020 brought heightened visibility to new technologies and approaches to create a safer food supply, including those to enhance traceability, improve predictive analytics, respond more rapidly to outbreaks, and reduce contamination of food. However, with more questions than answers on how the food industry can implement these technologies within their facilities and infrastructures, there exists an opportunity to help close the gap between what's achievable with these technologies and the current state. In this roundtable, a panel of regulatory and industry scientists will discuss how recent innovations in predictive analytics; new tools for risk assessment and environmental monitoring, including how to handle tracking and mapping data; and virtual monitoring technology for use in auditing and inspections can be used to improve food safety and sustainability. In addition, panelists will discuss whether the industry is using these technologies to their fullest extent, and limitations to implementing these technologies in the food industry.

Speakers:

Tim Jackson, FDA
Cindy Jiang, McDonalds
Joseph Holt, OSI Group
Derrick Bautista, Del Monte Foods

These sessions are supported by the IAFNS Food Microbiology Committee. Learn more about the IAFP Annual Meeting.

 

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