As the demand for rapid food safety testing increases, Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) testing is quickly becoming an industry standard for hygiene monitoring. Variables such as sensitivity, ease of use, stability of equipment, and reliable technical support need to be considered.
Repeatability is one such critical feature.
Why does repeatability matter in ATP testing?
Repeatability refers to variation in the measurements attributed to the system. Poor repeatability can arise from variability between testing swabs due to manufacturing or storage issues, as well as inconsistencies in instruments. The practical implications are that it can directly impact the prevalence of false positive and false negative results.
A false positive occurs when a test result incorrectly indicates that a high level of ATP is present on a surface. This is a challenge for food and beverage companies, as they then have to re-clean a surface that has already been cleaned, increasing throughput time and cost.
A false negative occurs when a test result incorrectly indicates that a low level of ATP is on a surface. This poses a significant food safety risk, as failing to re-clean the surface could lead to unintentional contamination, which spoils the food process, can put consumers at risk of falling ill, and can lead to product recalls.
The question then becomes how to determine the repeatability of ATP testing solutions to decide which one is right for your facility.
Comparing the performance of different ATP systems.
We tested our 3M™ Clean-Trace™ Hygiene Monitoring and Management System by comparing its results with competitors’ luminometers.
Each luminometer was tested using 10 swabs with a standard concentration of ATP, which should yield a low variation between results indicating that contamination is present.
For establishing cleanliness in the workplace, the test with the lowest Coefficient of Variation (CV) is most reliable.
Figure 1 below shows the results of the study. The 3M™ Clean-Trace™ ATP Tests revealed a CV of 11.93%, which demonstrates a more consistent level of repeatability.
Conversely, the competitor’s ATP test showed a CV of 84.82% - which means high variability, leading to more false positives and false negatives.
Figure 2 shows the results of a second study using a competitor’s ATP test. Once again, the 3M™ Clean-Trace™ ATP Test showed a low CV while the competitor’s test yielded a high CV. Yielding a high CV can negatively affect the level of confidence in your test results.
A reliable ATP testing option.
The results of these studies show that the 3M™ Clean-Trace™ Hygiene Monitoring and Management System has low variability when detecting standard concentrations of ATP, making it a reliable method for monitoring the cleanliness of surfaces in food processing facilities.
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