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Bite Sized Insights for Food Industry Professionals

Alchemy's Blog The Feed

Tara Guthrie

Tara Guthrie brings ten years of media experience to Alchemy Systems where she has specialized in communications since spring 2014. Today, she proudly supports Alchemy's food industry relations. Tara is currently a member of the International Association for Food Protection where she is a part of both the HACCP and Food Safety Education professional development groups. Prior to Alchemy, she worked in digital media for Austin American-Statesman. She is also an active freelance journalist and avid blogger.
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Recent Posts

Prevent Workplace Injuries: A Guide to Incident Investigations & Corrective Action

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Dec 15 2016
Dec 15 2016

What went wrong? That’s the first question that comes to mind when any incident occurs. If an incident happens in your facility, learning what went wrong is just the first step in preventing future accidents. Using best practices for incident investigation paired with root-cause analysis can provide a solid foundation for fine tuning your serious-injury prevention strategy.

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Topics: Workplace Safety

Reduce Lost Profit from Food Waste: Industry Tax Benefits of Food Donations

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Dec 13 2016
Dec 13 2016

Congress recently passed a permanent extension of their enhanced tax deductions for food donations  found in Section 170(e)(3) of the U.S. Tax Code. Per the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, the extension and modification of the charitable deduction for donated food inventory contains four significant changes that benefit companies who give back:

  1. Permanently extends the enhanced tax deduction for food donations
  2. Increases the deduction’s cap to 15% of the donor’s net income
  3. Provides certain taxpayers a new optional formula for calculating the enhanced deduction
  4. Provides a formula for determining the fair market value (FMV) of food inventory
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Topics: Operations

Food Defense: Q&A with Food Safety Experts

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Sep 21 2016
Sep 21 2016

FSMA’s Intentional Adulteration Rule, also referred to as the “food defense rule,” is intended to protect the food supply from potential large-scale harm that could threaten consumers and put food companies' bottom line at risk. The rule requires facilities to create a written food defense plan in which they must identify areas
of their operation vulnerable to intentional adulteration and devise strategies to mitigate that risk.

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Topics: Food Safety

How to Prevent Food Fraud: Q&A with Industry Experts

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Aug 15 2016
Aug 15 2016

Horse meat in hamburgers, fillers in Parmesan, Italian olive oil that isn’t authentic — these are all prime examples of food fraud. Food fraud is an issue that threatens the viability of food companies and the safety of consumers. Now, suppliers who fraudulently manufacture, label, or sell their product face potential regulatory and legal consequences under FSMA standards. That’s why two experts in food fraud mitigation, Jorge Acosta and Karen Everstine, took the time to answer some very pointed questions about what food manufacturers can do to help them minimize their risk while keeping up with the evolving regulatory landscape.

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Topics: Food Safety

Brexit – How Can the Meat Industry Benefit?

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Jul 15 2016
Jul 15 2016

In a recent piece by UK-based Meat Packing Journal, British industry insiders weighed in on how the meat industry may get a bottom-line boost as a result of Brexit. 

What will Brexit mean? The one thing we can tell you with absolute certainty is that there has never been a time like this when buying British equipment and distribution or co-packing services; in the short term, at least, it means getting a real bargain.

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Topics: Food Safety, Operations

How to Be Audit Ready All the Time – Q&A with Experts

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Jul 7 2016
Jul 7 2016

The food industry’s dense regulatory landscape has evolved significantly in the era of FSMA, the “new” FDA investigator, GFSI, and increased liability exposure. With new regulations launched this year, increased inspection mandates, and looming deadlines for compliance, how can you set a “new normal” of being audit ready all the time? Take this advice from food policy experts.


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Topics: Food Safety

Poultry Industry Weighs In on OSHA’s Expanded Inspections

Posted by Tara Guthrie

May 10 2016
May 10 2016

The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Chicken Council, and National Turkey Federation are concerned about OSHA’s recent attempts to expand the agency's authority - conducting wall-to-wall inspections of poultry processing facilities whenever they receive notice of any accident or employee complaint. 

Like any employer, poultry processors are subject to inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Regardless, the poultry industry remains committed to the safety, health, and wellbeing of the frontline workforce. That commitment is demonstrated by the tremendous progress the poultry industry has made in reducing worker injury and illness rates, which have declined 81% in the last 20 years according to the 2014 Injury and Illness Report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In late April, the industry associations above released their official answer to OSHA's expanded inspections for poultry processors:

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Topics: Workplace Safety

Top 5 BRC 7 Non-Conformances

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Apr 18 2016
Apr 18 2016

Alchemy recently attended the BRC Food Safety America’s Conference in Tampa, Florida. Throughout the conference, ensuring compliance with BRC, amongst other regulatory and industry standards, was a top priority.

Our partners at BRC explained to attendees that conforming to BRC 7 standards should help food companies bridge any gaps in their current plan that could prevent them from meeting the much anticipated FSMA final rules. Furthermore, BRC’s Technical Director for Food Schemes David Brackston discussed the top 5 non-conformances from BRC Issue 7 to help attendees prepare for their next audit.

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Topics: Food Safety

5 Ways for the Food Industry to Avoid Criminal Liability: Lessons from Peanut Corporation of America

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Jan 7 2016
Jan 7 2016
In 2015, a federal judge shook the food industry when he sentenced three executives from the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) to serve hard jail time for their role in 2008-2009’s Salmonella outbreak. The landmark decision set a legal precedent that has not only shaped the way the FDA now approaches its own investigations, but also leaves food industry professionals open to criminal liability. Executives and plant management could pay a hefty price.
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Topics: Food Safety, Operations

How to plan for USDA HACCP validation: Q&A with food safety consultants

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Nov 10 2015
Nov 10 2015

Earlier this year, the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) released the final requirements for Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) systems validations. The new HACCP regulations go into effect January 4 for large establishments (500+ employees), then in April for smaller (<500 employees). Will your company be ready in time to avoid non-compliance and enforcement actions?

Alchemy asked two food industry consultants to address a few questions from food industry professionals like you. 

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Topics: Food Safety

5 Sessions You Won’t Want to Miss at 2015 SQF International Conference

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Oct 27 2015
Oct 27 2015

Kicking off November, food industry professionals of all types, backgrounds, and levels will descend upon Indianapolis, Indiana for the SQF International Conference. Most will be on a mission of returning home with new expertise to help their companies be best in class for food safety.

There will a wide variety of activities to choose from at the SQF International Conference such as:  how to prevent food fraud, creating a food safety culture, measuring ROI, and identifying missteps in the CAPA process. In addition, attendees may choose from a variety of workshops including an extensive overview and evaluation of the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) final rules, as well as training and compliance issues.

With so much to choose from, we know many may be wondering how to determine what sessions are a must-see. We recommend you pick based on your company’s business objectives, but this carefully curated list may help you get a jump start on planning.

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Topics: Food Safety

What You Don’t Know About Food Workers Could Break Your Brand

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Oct 19 2015
Oct 19 2015

Today, the Center for Research and Public Policy (CRPP) revealed the results of a study into food workers examining their values, opinions, attitudes towards work, and lifestyles. An alarming finding was revealed -- more than half of employees at food companies in the United States and Canada go to work sick. The risk of food contamination from employee illness may be a big miss when it comes to food safety related preventative controls.

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Why Industrial Bakers Can't Afford to Miss American Bakers Association's Fall Policy Conference

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Oct 15 2015
Oct 15 2015

Next week, the baking industry’s aspiring executives will gather in Washington to network with senior industry leaders to hear about a variety of issues including what keeps baking executives up at night and initiatives underway to address industry skills gaps. Rounding out this content-rich agenda will be business and advocacy experts sharing their insights on the skills needed to be an effective CEO including:

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Get the most out of #AlchemyConference 2015 – How to Prepare and What to Bring

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Sep 15 2015
Sep 15 2015

Each year the Alchemy Conference is carefully curated to bring attendees the best possible experience. The goal is to elevate skills, empower attendees with knowledge, and provide world-class networking opportunities. Whether you’re a first timer or an old pro, a little guidance goes a long way in helping you to get the most out of your experience. Here are a few recommendations to get your planning started.

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Topics: Alchemy Conference

IAFP 2015 Takeaway: Sustained Food Safety Culture

Posted by Tara Guthrie

Aug 21 2015
Aug 21 2015

I believe many IAFP attendees would be in agreement that the core of any food safety system starts with preventative controls and environmental monitoring. That's why Alchemy pulled together a panel of some of the industry's finest to lend their expertise on  Environmental Monitoring: a preventative control requiring the closed loop method of food safety education at this year’s IAFP Conference in Portland, Oregon. 

Pamela Wilger of Cargill, and Laura Dunn Nelson of Alchemy moderated the session which featured Dr. John Butts of Land O’ Frost, Holly Mockus of Alchemy, and Miriam Eisenberg of Ecolab. In case you couldn’t be there, here’s a breakdown of the session’s key takeaways.

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Topics: Food Safety