Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream voluntarily recalled products and closed retail scoop shops in April 2015 after listeria was found in a random sample. The FDA promptly conducted a ten-day inspection, concluding that a number of problems contributed to the contamination, including employees failing to follow safety procedures, a lack of environmental testing, and a general failure to take equipment sterilization seriously.
This listeria outbreak highlights the problem with a reactive approach to food safety. Relying on post-production QA leads to contaminated food reaching the public before food manufacturers even know there is a problem. In essence, the public is serving as the QA department, and they submit their report by checking in to a hospital. It’s no surprise that the FDA is expected to soon mandate use of preventative monitoring and testing, including HACCP, for all food manufacturers — a decision in part driven by this year’s string of ice cream-related listeria headlines.
This sudden shift to a proactive food safety model has caught many food processors off balance. With so many food and beverage QA departments rushing to come up to speed, it can be easy to inadvertently invest in a tabletop sterilizer that’s not up to the task. Check out this list of tabletop autoclave red flags before making a commitment.