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CFP’s sidebars drive food safety in ‘No Action’ atmosphere

Opinion

Editor’s note: The Conference for Food Protection is managed by an executive board that includes 23 voting members who represent: state food regulatory agencies from each of the FDA regions; local food regulatory agencies from each of the FDA regions; the FDA; USDA/FSIS; the CDC, the food industry; an academic institution; and consumers.

BOISE, ID — Robert’s Rules drive order in the complex deliberations at the bi-annual meeting of the Conference for Food Protection. They also drive attendees out of the intense sessions to refresh in open spaces where they can share learning in a spirit of open-mindedness.

Heading into the final day of the meeting today, some frustration was voiced Tuesday by attendees from academia.

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                                                                                     (Photos by Jim Mann)

“We are invited to join committees because of our scientific knowledge and then the science is ignored, in favor of No Action, protecting the status quo,” one academic said.

“Insufficient science …” was the verdict to warrant a recommendation of No Action for a proposal seen as very important in solving hand cleanliness issues where ready-to-eat produce is harvested.

The proposed protocol — to use hand sanitizers in an unconventional way — was successfully tested by Emory University in a controlled study in produce fields. Dubbed SaniTwice, the method delivered results equal to or better than the soap/water standard.

This second day in Council III of the Conference organization was dominated with similar scenarios with brightly colored stickers announcing “No Action” on a string of agenda items — many of them related to hand washing.

The most frequent sponsors of the No Action option were members of the regulatory community.

Reflections on norovirus precipitated a chorus of disagreement after the Council voted for “No Action” on Issue III-040. ATP (adenosine triphosphate). Using Green Fluorescent Proteins (GFPs), the ATP testing method measures biological cleanliness by showing whether live biological cells are present on surfaces. Live cells are not visible to the human eye and indicate microbial growth.

“This term (ATP) is not used in the FC (Food Code),” was the reason given for the No Action vote on the issue. However, the question before the Council was whether to add a definition for ATP.

The current standard for high-touch, non-food contact surface cleanliness prevailed: “Clean to sight and touch.”

One attendee quipped: “Good news for the covert community of norovirus.”

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Pondering progress
With Council work completed today, a well deserved sense of accomplishment prevailed this afternoon in Boise.

Post-Council collaborations are perhaps the strongest element of the Conference for Food Protection. Win or lose, each issue increases awareness and lights a path to future action. The influence of the Conference is undeniable.

A lunch break took some attendees to a nearby restaurant. Guests were welcomed by a greeter while she cleaned menus before handing them to the hungry and appreciative food safety professionals.

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