Although foodborne illness outbreaks are nothing new, they can be potentially hazardous to the integrity and success of your retail foodservice operations and brands if you are not proactive in your food safety processes and public relations efforts.

One example occurred in mid-September when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified Wegmans that a random sample of Wegmans Cleaned and Cut Kale (16 oz. bag) was taken from one store on August 3 and tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. This product is also used as an ingredient in a variety of recipes offered on Wegmans hot and cold bars and other prepared foods.

Wegmans took a proactive approach to this development by alerting customers and issuing a press release that pointed out no illnesses associated with this product have been reported to Wegmans or its supplier. The incubation period for listeriosis can range from three to 70 days, but symptoms usually appear within a month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. Estimating illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths for various types of diseases is a common and important public health practice. 

The latest CDC data show that FoodNet identified 19,056 cases of culture-confirmed bacterial and laboratory-confirmed parasitic infection, 4,200 hospitalizations and 80 deaths among 48 million residents of 10 states in 2013. The most frequent infection was caused by Salmonella accounting for 38 percent of reported infections, and the second by Campylobacter (35 percent).

Salmonella is the cause of 1.2 million illnesses in the United States every year, according to the CDC. New from 3M Food Safety, the next generation assay for salmonella provides an easier and faster solution to help food processors protect the world’s food supply.

“We are excited to announce this next generation assay for the detection of salmonella,” said John David, global marketing supervisor for 3M Food Safety. “The streamlined and simplified workflow, time savings, and reliable results provided by the system enable food processors and laboratories to operate with greater productivity and confidence.”

The new test is a part of the award-winning 3M Molecular Detection System platform, used by food processors, universities, governments and contract testing laboratories in more than 40 countries. The 3M Molecular Detection System is powered by a combination of advanced technologies — isothermal DNA amplification and bioluminescence detection — to provide a pathogen testing solution that is fast, accurate, easy-to-use and affordable. In July 2015, 3M began to offer new assay technologies with test kits for listeria and listeria monocytogenes. All first and second-generation assays can be run simultaneously on the 3M Molecular Detection Instrument, making the transition to the new tests seamless.