2009 China-America Frontiers of Engineering Symposium

The Food Safety Objective Approach to Risk-Based Process Design

As more consumers demand nutritious, fresh-like, ready-to-eat foods in convenient packaging, outbreaks associated with dry food ingredients including peanuts and tree nuts (almonds and pistachios), powdered infant formula and seeds for sprouts have been the headline news.  Traditional thermal approaches to decontaminating these foods can cause adverse effects to product quality; therefore, alternative processes for decontaminating dry materials are desirable.  Scientists and engineers have fueled a surge in the development of new processing technologies aimed at delivering numerous high quality shelf-stable and extended shelf-life (ESL) foods. As existing technologies are refined and novel microbial inactivation technologies are developed to meet consumer demands, there is a growing need for a metric that can be used to judge equivalent levels of hazard control stringency in order to ensure food safety.  
Increased concern over microbiological food safety in terms of public health and international food trade has led to a shift in how microbial risks are assessed and controlled. Widely varying and often vague national and international food regulations lead to inconsistencies in processing treatments that impart barriers to trade.   As a direct result of conflict between national food legislation and general requirements of world food markets, the Codex Alimentarius Commission implemented principles for the establishment of microbiological criteria for foods in international trade (CAC/GL 63- 2007) that are addressed in the joint Food and Agriculture/World Health Organization food standards program.  Since then, governments around the world have begun adopting a risk-based approach to food safety management.