Taking the necessary steps to maintain hygienic conditions and prevent cross-contamination from occurring in a food processing environment is an essential part of food safety testing and quality systems.
In this series, we explore best practices for implementing an effective environmental monitoring program using our Environmental Monitoring Handbook. This comprehensive resource has been developed with Cornell University and other industry experts. It provides guidance on how those in the food and beverage industry can build and implement a holistic program based on industry best practices. This article will explore Chapter 2: ATP and Protein-Based Hygiene Monitoring.
The shift is now on prevention and adopting a proactive approach. It is clear that establishing an effective environmental monitoring program is key to control food safety hazards and reduce spoilage issues.
What is ATP testing and why should your facility do it?
Measuring adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels or protein residues is a rapid and simple way to assess the hygienic status of surfaces. It can also confirm the removal of organic matter that can serve as a food source for microorganisms or reduce the efficacy of sanitizers.
ATP testing using the 3M™ Clean-Trace™ Hygiene Monitoring and Management System can help provide a measurable and objective assessment of the cleanliness of equipment and surfaces.
This test is based on a bioluminescence reaction and results are available within seconds. If ATP is in the sample, light is produced and measured by the system. The more light, the greater the contamination. This qualitative data can be used beyond cleaning, sanitation processes, and resources.
The other method, using protein detection tests, is based on a colour change reaction (visual interpretation). Compared to ATP testing, protein testing is less sensitive, results are only qualitative/semi-qualitative, and available within several minutes.
Both ATP and protein-based tests indicate whether cleaning has been effective or if recleaning and retesting are necessary to reduce contamination before food production.
Three steps to develop an environmental monitoring program.
Your facility can create an effective environmental monitoring program using ATP or protein-based hygiene monitoring technologies by following these three steps:
- Set up a program to validate cleaning.
- Establish routine verification.
- Review and adjust the program regularly.
It is most important to consider the significance of the hazard (i.e. proximity of surfaces to food) and the probability of the hazard occurrence (i.e. difficulty to clean the contaminated surface/ equipment). After you have established these, map out areas within your facility based on microbial risk to the product and identify relevant test points.
Since results are available almost instantly, these hygiene monitoring methods allow information to be provided in time for correction action to be taken. Ongoing monitoring and data analysis are equally important to better understand and manage the facility’s hygiene process and ultimately maintain safe food production.
Learn more about environmental monitoring
To learn more about the importance of environmental monitoring, download our Environmental Monitoring Handbook by visiting this page. For more information on 3M Food Safety testing solutions, contact a representative by filling out the form below.
Stay tuned for the next two parts of this series to learn about the steps you can take to be more proactive about food safety testing in your facility.