Continuing TAG’s tradition of assessing the previous year at the turn of the new year, this article provides a look at the top-read TAG Insights articles of 2021. But this year, we are adding another component: a synopsis of a reflection on the year from the recent TAG Talks video with Founder and CEO Dr. David Acheson.
There is no doubt that 2021 continued to be a challenging year, particularly with the continuing impacts of COVID-19. One of the most critical was that of labor shortages and the difficulty in finding employees. Throughout the supply chain – growing, manufacturing, retail and restaurant – many businesses were utilizing temporary employees. In fact, these employees made up as much as 30-40% of the workforce for many, which led to much of the challenge. Adding to that were the supply chain shortages, many of which also were caused by lack of labor, and the need to find new suppliers.
It seemed that the industry had every curveball thrown at it in 2021, but those challenges did not slow down the regulatory oversight, scrutiny or writing of new regulations by either the FDA or FSIS. There was, however, a silver lining as no massive new rules or regulations were passed for which the industry needed to immediately comply in 2021.
With COVID-19 and regulatory scrutiny being just two of the areas the industry dealt with in 2021, it was a highly challenging year on all fronts – and I extend kudos to the food industry for the job it did. (View Dr. Acheson’s full discussion on 2021 here.)
It likely comes as no surprise that the most-read TAG Insights articles of 2021 were those related to standards and regulations, with the increased focus on allergen labeling of sesame coming in at number one. The two articles on FDA’s emphasis on heavy metals in general and in baby food in particular also ranked high for readership.
In our review of the Insights newsletters, we found that TAG’s analysis of the above topics and other key aspects of standards and regulations were sure to push articles and videos to the top of the most-read list – with those on TAG’s assessment of FDA’s actions being of particular interest. These included the analysis of the agency’s intended guidance list as foretelling what we expected to be the agency’s upcoming focus; what its stance on E. coli in leafy greens as a “reasonably foreseeable hazard” really means to the industry; and why you need a Food Defense Plan. Additionally, the two FSVP articles – top inspection observations and tips for avoiding FSVP 483s – showed FSVP to be a key action item for both FDA and food facilities.
But it wasn’t all about US regulations and standards, as the Safe Food for Canadians Regulation video and the Codex’s global focus on food safety culture articles were both of significant interest. With food safety culture continually gaining attention globally and domestically from regulators and businesses, TAG’s Food Safety Culture video has been the most watched since its posting in May.
The other key area of interest was that of food contamination/prevention including a new Listeria species reinforcing the need for environmental controls, gloves as a recall prevention strategy, and the above-reference E. coli in leafy greens and heavy metals in baby food articles. The ongoing need for environmental controls may also have led to the popularity of two TAG videos, A Q&A on ECPs & EMPs and Food Safety Education for Workers, which included discussion of needs for the diverse workforces of the food industry.
2021 was a challenging, interesting year, and TAG’s Insights articles and TAG Talks videos provide a historical look at the trends and developments of the year – with your readership providing its own insights as to those of greatest importance. With 2022 looking to continue along similar lines, be sure to keep an eye out for next week’s article for more from Dr. Acheson on the expectations for the new year.