Wow! Thanks FurFarmandFork! Your sites on the FDA's warning letters and the PCA indictment is exactly what I needed. Your recent example was an awesome read as well.
Just out of curiosity though, the FDA said that :
This is mainly because it is a chemical adulterant and that the introduction was specific in the food making process? I'm just wondering because a microbiological contamination would normally affect the entire lot unless there was a sanitation process in between or an event that blocks the flow of contamination. The investigation plan we have now is supposed to sample every pallet of the affected production hours with a composite sample composed of units from the beginning, middle, and end of each pallet. That would technically not be "random", right?
False. Charles C. will probably be here in a second to add some clarification to my micro sampling comments below.
Depending on the source of the contamination, it migh tbe homogenous throughout the lot, but I would consider this the exception to the rule. If micro contamination arises from a cross-contamination event or an employee or environmental hazard, it will only present where it was introduced.
E.g a condenser pan is dripping condensate on a conveyor, the condensate has l. mono. The l mono will only be in a sample which received a drip. But with a drip every few seconds and 1% of product affected, you could have tons of food that is contaminated. Your micro samples only tell you that the material that was actually sampled is free of the pathogens tested.
If your contamination event was truly randomly distributed throughout your lot, and 5% of the product was contaminated, a single sample has only a 1/20 chance of actually coming up positive! (generalization, but makes the point).
One last example, think of the last time you had a piece of moldy bread or cheese, was that mold evenly distributed throughout the loaf, or could you have sampled some from the good side or inside and given it to someone who didn't see the whole thing. What would they conclude about whether the cheese was spoiled or not?