Food Processing and Disease Prevention

Birko is at the forefront of new research and trends on food processing and fighting foodborne pathogens. Birko’s Class II pathogen lab, built to meet standards established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Laboratory Systems, is staffed by our experienced Ph.Ds and chemists. It serves as the central nerve center of Birko’s chemistry solutions, as we develop new interventions to fight foodborne pathogens.


Protecting the Food Chain and Preventing Disease

Birko’s Class II pathogen lab has been specially constructed to contain agents of moderate potential hazard to people and the environment, such as various bacteria and viruses including Salmonella and E. coli. Our laboratory personnel are specifically trained in handling pathogenic agents and are directed by scientists with advanced training. For everyone’s safety, we limit access to the laboratory when work is being conducted and take extreme precautions with contaminated items. Additionally, when researching chemistry for food safety solutions, we use physical containment equipment and follow detailed procedures to control the spread of infectious aerosols or splashes that may be created.

Birko and the protein industry are committed to keeping the food chain safe. Accordingly, Birko adheres to the Beef Industry Food Safety Council’s BIFSCo best practices for combatting complex food safety issues and foodborne pathogens. Birko and BIFSCo advocate a collaborative effort between the protein industry and the scientific community based upon BIFSCo’s mission:

  • The use of science-based pathogen intervention strategies to enhance sanitary processes that include effective and microbiological verifiable Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).
  • The principles of prevention and risk reduction from farm to table that include effective monitoring and intervention strategies.
  • The understanding by each segment of the beef food chain of the food safety risks affected by production and the steps needed to ensure a safe beef experience.

Keeping the Food Chain Safe

At Birko, we know that there are a number of aggressive, effective methods to keep food safe. Yet the reality is that no single method can completely eliminate E. coli and other pathogenic bacteria, either at home or in meat processing facilities.

In processing facilities, it’s often necessary to use a multiple-hurdle approach. Each step in the dressing and processing of beef provides an opportunity to control bacteria, prevent cross-contamination and prevent the spread of bacterial contamination to downstream processes.

To help protein processors keep the food chain as safe as possible, Birko has a complete family of specialty processing, cleaning and sanitation chemicals, in addition to harvesting and processing equipment and chemical product delivery equipment.

Read more about Birko’s approach to food safety in these blogs:

Controlling E. coli—A Multiple-Hurdle Approach
E. coli outbreaks continue to hurt the food processing industry in unexpected ways, as seen in the early summer 2011 contamination in Europe. The USDA FSIS issued 2009 guidelines for its control but as the current problem shows, new strains of E. coli make it imperative to be vigilant in attacking this enemy.

HB2 Bromine Precursor—A New Antimicrobial Intervention
Lab tests have shown hypobromous acid (generated from the HB2 precursor) is effective in reducing E. coli O157:H7, helping processors comply with their E. coli intervention requirement under FSIS Notice 05-09. Specifically, controlled tests have shown hypobromous acid reduces E. coli O157:H7 and other problem pathogens by as much as 99.959% in a one-minute period and up to 99.999% over five minutes. This compares favorably with other popular antimicrobial interventions in current use.

You can also find more information on food safety in this Guide for Consumers about Food Safety, which contains many helpful links.