How Do I Sample the Environment and Equipment?
Food product contamination from the post-processing environment is likely the most frequent cause of contaminated processed food product recalls and a significant source of poisoning outbreaks, and shelf life problems in North America with processed Ready-To-Eat foods. Conditions exist for the growth of microorganisms in most food processing factories. Failure to clean and effectively sanitize a microbial growth niche can lead to biofilm formation. Biofilms may be orders of magnitude more resistant to destruction by sanitizers. Cells in some biofilms have been shown to be 1,000 times more resistant to destruction than those which are freely suspended. This has implications for cleaning, sanitizing, sampling, and training. Sampling the factory environment is one means of monitoring the efficacy of microbiological control as well as a powerful tool for in-factory contamination investigation. Many sampling techniques exist and are discussed. It is important to recognize the difference between cleaning (removal of soil) and sanitization (reduction of microbial populations). Knowing where, when, and how to sample, how many samples to take, and what to test for and how to interpret test information is critical in finding and preventing contamination.
KeywordsIndicator Organism Plate Count Agar Aerobic Plate Count Listeria Species Sponge Sample
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