“Each and every one of you in the room today are in this race, and that race is between your ability and your company's ability to prevent poultry-related illnesses and our ability as a society to detect them. ... I believe that public health detection is outpacing industry prevention," said Frank Yiannas, vice president, food safety, Walmart, emphasizing that the industry has a duty to accelerate prevention of food safety issues related to poultry products.
The recall by Rose Acre Farms of over 200 million eggs in the spring of 2018 is the largest egg recall In the U.S. since 2010. The salmonellosis outbreak which triggered this recall was caused by a serovar not frequently associated with food safety issues in eggs, Salmonella braenderup.
This outbreak illustrates one of the points made by Yiannas at the 2018 Chicken Marketing Summit, presented by WATT Global Media. Yiannas pointed out that it isn’t just advances in microbiological testing that are rapidly pushing forward identification of food safety outbreaks.
Big data tools are making it easier to detect consumer trends. Data from credit/debit card purchases and shopper loyalty programs provide a more accurate history of what consumers really purchased and where they were purchased. Information on social media posts and online search behavior is used to identify areas where foodborne illnesses may be trending up, and this can allow for pockets of illnesses in different states to be linked. All this means that foodborne illness outbreaks will be easier to detect and tie together.
Food safety for egg producers will always need to be about more than just regulatory compliance. Keeping eggs safe and affordable requires continuous improvement and a willingness to adopt new technologies.