Food and beverage industries are required to conduct and monitor a hygiene programme by legislation. Food safety regulations in South Africa have been lax, but the listeriosis outbreak in 2018 that claimed the lives of over 200 people, has brought more focus to current legislation, which has been amended.
The R638 “Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements for Food Premises, the Transport of Food and Related Matters” which replaces the R962, has recently been gazetted, and is more stringent.
In order to gain and retain consumer confidence, companies need to ensure that they comply with food safety standards. Hygiena is often asked how to set up and run a thorough food safety programme.
Here’s our expert advice:
What should you test for?
Don’t limit your environmental monitoring program to pathogens only! A proactive strategy is to locate potential niches for pathogenic growth and detect areas of potential harborage. Remember, the best defense is a good offense. A robust food safety environmental monitoring program typically includes ATP sanitation monitoring, protein surface testing (allergen screening), environmental allergen test kits and micro-organism testing.
Hygiena EnSURE is a handheld, easy-to-use monitoring system that tests for ATP and microorganisms. Also available are lateral flow allergen test kits and protein surface testing kits that do not require any instrumentation or waiting time – results from these simple tests are visible in 1 – 10 minutes.
Where will you test?
In addition to manufacturing lines where products directly contact surfaces, samples should also be taken from the environment. Refer to zones, considering risks and facility design to determine control points. If you’re not finding Listeria or Salmonella in the areas you’re testing, look elsewhere. Corrective actions should always be in place and well documented for positive findings.
How often should you test/how much?
Depending on the test being performed, environmental samples should be taken after sanitation, before start-up and during processing. Software tools like Hygiena’s SureTrend help you gain statistical test coverage of locations based on risk rank and hygienic zones. Depending on your manufacturing schedule, volumes and changeover frequency, microorganism testing may be daily or weekly. Now that environmental test kits are so much more affordable and easy to use, bringing micro testing in-house is reasonable.
How fast can you get results?
With novel development in microorganism testing like the MicroSnap line from Hygiena, results are available in 8 hours or less. Many formats are AOAC-RI-validated methods for products and environmental samples with results in 6–8 hours, including enrichment. This technology is evolving to include 2–5-hour tests designed specifically for surface detection.
What will you do with all the data?
Another facet is the record-keeping requirement. Complementary software tools compatible with monitoring systems, like Hygiena SureTrend, store environmental monitoring test results for trending and long-term analysis. The software also produces sharable preset reports, including corrective action reports useful for documentation. p>
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