uling, cleaning and sanitizing, control
of rework, product identification and
recalls, and education of management
Mycotoxins and Acrylamide
Allergens are not the only chemical
hazard to be aware of, as snacks that
are grain- or seed-based could contain mycotoxins, the worst of which is aflatoxin,
which causes liver disease. Companies that use baking, frying, or oven cooking to
produce snacks must be aware of acrylamide because the ingestion of too much of
this compound can be carcinogenic.
5 Acrylamide has hit the snack food industry
very hard over the past decade, necessitating the use of alternative processing.
Although most snack foods can be viewed as perfectly safe, it is important to
avoid mishandling, abuse after process-
ing, incorporation of contaminated in-
gredients, and failure to manage certain
processing steps prior to consumption.
One pathogen that has been common in
snack foods is Listeria monocytogenes.
of these foods are ice cream and hummus
due to their high water activity and storage
at refrigeration temperatures. L. mono-
cytogenes post-lethal processing contami-
nation has caused multi-year recalls and
outbreaks within the ice cream and hum-
mus categories. Companies have invested
millions of dollars in mitigation, control,
and prevention strategies. This includes
but is not limited to new construction,
new equipment, enhanced sanitation pro-
grams, and hiring additional experienced
food safety/quality assurance team mem-
bers. One company even stopped produc-
tion and outsourced to comanufacturers
of their product because the pathogen was
found to be resident within the processing
plant and unable to be effectively miti-
gated after multiple deep-clean sanitation
and disinfectant applications.
In the last few decades, there have been
several recalls related to Salmonella in everyone’s go-to snack, peanut butter, which
demonstrates that some conditions, like
low water activity, make it nearly impossible to remove a pathogen once the product is exposed.
5 Other nut butters have
also been involved in serious pathogenic
outbreaks and recalls.
Another snack item that may seem extremely safe is beef jerky; however, some
pathogens can survive the harsh drying
process used to make this food, and killing off these pathogens would require additives such as nitrites which are known to
form carcinogenic compounds.
9 Beef jerky
is a new artisanal movement enabling
small processors to open for business.
Many artisanal jerky makers are marketing their product
When one hears the word cereal, he or she will often think of a breakfast
food, but cereal is also very popular as a snack food item, especially for
toddlers. Unfortunately, if you pack cereal as the “easy” snack for your little
one(s), you may want to be careful which cereal you choose. One popular
cereal in particular, Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, was the recent subject of a recall
associated with the bacterial pathogen Salmonella, which was reported in 33
10 For those unfamiliar with this product, it is a puffed-wheat, sugarcoated
cereal. In addition, most people are somewhat familiar with Salmonella, but
some people do not know that this bacterial genus is responsible for the
majority of foodborne illnesses linked to bacteria, is often present in improperly
cooked eggs and poultry, and is known to have more than 1,000 strains.
Despite the Honey Smacks recall issued on June 14, 2018, making the sale of
this product illegal in the United States, it was reported about a month later
that cereal containing traces of Salmonella was still available for sale at certain
Food Safety News11 reported that, “Investigators have laboratory
confirmation that the outbreak strain of Salmonella Mbandaka is in the
manufacturing facility and in unopened packages of the cereal. As of June
12, the food manufacturer—which Kellogg’s hired to make the Honey
Smacks—stopped producing the product.” While no individuals died, 34 out
of the 135 people who became sick were hospitalized as a result of the
10 Although Salmonella is not usually deadly, it can make its way
through the intestines to the bloodstream and to the rest of the body.
a result, Salmonella victims can suffer serious side effects such as diarrhea,
fever, and abdominal cramps, and these effects can last from 4 to 7 days on
10 The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued
a statement that warned people not to eat Kellogg’s Honey Smacks no matter
what package size or sell-by date and also encouraged people who have
recently consumed the cereal with no side effects to discard their cereal or
return it for a refund.
13 In addition, it was recommended that if a bag of cereal
is missing its original box and the owners have forgotten the name and type
of cereal, the consumers should dispose of the cereal; for those who keep
their cereal in containers other than cereal boxes and bags, they also should
discard the cereal and clean and sanitize the container with water and dish
14 CDC requested that anybody who sees Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal
being sold notify his or her local U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
consumer complaint coordinator.
12 CDC and FDA investigated the source of the
contamination with the help of state and local health officials throughout the
U.S., and identified specific problems at the manufacturing plant.
In conclusion, it is important that people avoid eating Kellogg’s Honey
Smacks marked with a “best if used by” date before June 14, 2019, as well as
any similar cereals and always be aware of the news, because no one knows
when their favorite snack food may be the subject of a recall. (continued on page 63)