Food Safety Expert: Scott Donnelly, Ph. D
Scott Donnelly is a product safety authority with more than two decades of food industry experience. His areas of expertise include: control of Salmonella, Listeria and Enterobacter sakazakii; microbiological laboratory operations; factory assessments and audits; and microbiological training. Dr. Donnelly is also a certified SQF consultant for infant formula. SQF certification is a HAACP-based (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) system that manages food safety risk instead of reacting to it, essentially foreseeing and taking steps to prevent future problems.
As special projects manager, associate director of product safety, and director of product safety with Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Donnelly worked worldwide to ensure the manufacture of safe and compliant products. He oversaw the development, implementation and qualification of new analytical testing methods, and led task forces that investigated product safety and compliance incidents.
What is the single most important thing that can be done (by food growers, producers, government, consumers – any, or all of the above) to improve food safety in the United States?
S.D.: We need to hold all producers and manufacturers to Safe Quality Foods (SQF) certification standards. SQF certification is an HAACP-based (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) system that manages food-safety risk instead of reacting to it, essentially foreseeing and taking steps to prevent future problems.
10 Commandments of Food Safety
Scott Donnelly tells us whether he abides by the following food safety recommendations.
1. I use a “refrigerator thermometer” to keep my food stored at a safe temperature (below 40°F).
2. I always defrost food in the refrigerator, the microwave or in cold water, never on the counter.
S.D.: I rarely defrost. When I do, I leave the food out on the counter for less than 4 hours.
3. I always use separate cutting boards for raw meat/poultry/fish and produce/cooked foods.
S.D.: Yes. Or I clean and sanitize the same board.
4. I always cook meat to proper temperatures, using a calibrated instant-read thermometer to make sure.
S.D.: No. I use visual cues based on experience.
5. I avoid unpasteurized (“raw”) milk and cheeses made from unpasteurized milk that are aged less than 60 days.
S.D.: Raw milk cheese is safe; raw milk is not.
6. I never eat “runny” eggs or foods, such as cookie dough, that contain raw eggs.
S.D.: Eggs should be cooked.
7. I always wash my hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling food and after touching raw meat, poultry or eggs.
8. I always heat leftover foods to 165ºF.
S.D.: No. I use common sense.
9. I never eat meat, poultry, eggs or sliced fresh fruits and vegetables that have been left out for more than 2 hours (1 hour in temperatures hotter than 90°F).
S.D.: No. I use common sense. 4 hours is the limit
10. Whenever there’s a food recall, I check products stored at home to make sure they are safe.
S.D.: I purchase locally grown, fresh foods.