Let’s get our priorities straight

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Our readers have noticed that we've broadened the scope of our news coverage. Sure, news of new standards, technology and procedure implementation at clean facilities around the nation will always make the cover; however, much of our recent news has covered what happens when these vital pieces of the contamination-control continuum are not implemented.

We seem to forget that contamination control is practiced and lived, not simply installed like a set of filters or a sparkling new wet bench. Sure, the technology is vital, but it's useless if it resides in an environment where procedures are lax or non-existent. The consequences threaten and eventually claim lives.

No matter what you make, develop or refine, if you're working in a clean environment you need to start thinking about contamination control as a long series of integral steps, each unattainable if the previous one is missed.

For example, our watchdogs that attended the recent Food Safety Summit in Washington, D.C., reported back to us that the food security sessions were standing-room-only. Heavy hitters from companies the size of Nestle and Dial packed a room to listen to the FBI, the Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies and the US Air Force discuss risk evaluation, how to prevent contaminated ingredients, employee screening and securing shipping and receiving procedures.

“Who thinks of the loading dock when you consider contamination-control plans?” asked my secret agent who attended the conference. “I mean now, more than ever, everyone, be it a food processor, chip maker or pharmaceutical manufacturer, is going to have to keep an eye on the people dropping off 'raw materials.'”

We're putting the onus on the periphery today simply because we have to. It's a new mindset. Contamination of ingredients, facility security, employee tampering and intentional sabotage are topics that are now, more than ever, at the top of our mind. These are the newest contamination-control concerns; the ones focused on the health and wellness of human beings.

If we have to become more of an industry watchdog through our news, so be it. We will continue to hit hard with the standard- and technology-specific news because that's our bread and butter. But we're going to turn up the volume on FDA infringements and recalls due to missed contamination-control practices-the integral steps. We can learn by example, even when they're not the best examples.

I'll never forget my first Editorial Advisory Board meeting when members of our esteemed group told me that I would be blown away by the amount of money spent on protecting our semiconductor chips compared to the amount spent on protecting our people.

After a few years I must say, I am a little surprised.

Michael A. Levans
Chief Editor


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