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On the spot: ATP sanitation in beverage applications

Written by Janice M on . Posted in Hygiene & Quality Control

Many beverage, winery and brewery facilities have experienced the terrible loss of a batch or consumer trust in their product, due to quality problems.

Out of necessity, several users found ATP sanitation an ideal method for monitoring HACCP points in real time and thus avoiding future costly mistakes. Read about their unique experiences.

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Case 1: Setting Up a QC programme from scratch
Alementary Brewing Co in Havensack, New Jersey

For brewers like the quality obsessed duo leading Alementary Brewing Co., incorporating an ATP sanitation monitoring system into their brewery’s quality control procedures was a requirement – no questions asked. Co-owner Michael Roosevelt, Ph D recalls, "when we started planning the brewery, one of the first things we knew we needed to have was a full lab for all QC and microbiological analysis. So in doing our research on what successful breweries do, ATP testing was one of those things we felt was foundational in a QC programme. We realised we needed to do that right away."

Roosevelt looked to resources from the American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC), industry webinars and conference proceedings to seek guidance on best practices for laboratory set up, then approached the use of these tools as any trained molecular biologist would.

"Even before we made our first batch, we did a full passivation of the system, plus a full Clean-In-Place (CIP) cycle. That was our first opportunity to test out the Ultra-Snap surface ATP and AquaSnap water ATP tests – and set an expectation for our pass and fail tolerances, " explained Roosevelt.

Once the brewery was up and running, Roosevelt’s inspection strategy shifted to a seek and destroy methodology. By selecting swabbing sites within the tank where the automated washing system is most challenged to reach, the ATP system can put the weakest link to the test, ensuring even the hardest-to-clean sites are consistently being addressed.

Using a municipal water source for the rinse step at the end of the sanitation nun, Alementary uses AquaSnap water ATP tests as assurance that the city’s water supply is relatively clean and not contributing any detrimental contamination.

By validating sanitation protocols and monitoring for unexpected contaminants in rinse water, the ATP test results instill confidence in the entire cleaning process.

Staying vigilant is a part of Alementary’s long term commitment to immaculate sanitation as a factor of quality. Roosevelt adds, "I’m always going to be looking for how to improve this programme by adding in more sampling locations or rotating in additional sites in each kettle."

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Case 2: Investigating New Challenges
Black Abbey Brewing Co., Nashville

For established brewers, overcoming challenges introduced by new equipment can threaten to disrupt the quality status quo. The Black Abbey Brewing Co. identified its need for an ATP sanitation monitoring system to investigate quality issues during the transition to higher capacity equipment.

"We wanted to make sure we had good quality processes in place for everything – starting with making sure the tanks were cleaned and properly broken down before beer even goes into them," explained owner John Owen. "I felt like we were doing a pretty good job of doing it, but just eyeballing it – it can be hard to tell. We wanted to have something that could give us proof that we were doing a good job."

After what is typically a 4-hour sanitation process, tanks at Black Abbey are put to the test with UltraSnap surface ATP tests, checking at least six different locations in each tank. "What it has taught us is that there are a couple areas that even though they looked clean – and it looked like we were doing a good job – we really needed to spend a little extra time on it," adds Owen.

Particularly troublesome areas for some brewers include sediment heavy locations, such as the racking arm and racking port. Identifying those troublesome areas and using the ATP system to investigate the effectiveness of cleaning interventions allows brewers like Black Abbey to establish validated protocols that can be proven on the spot. While adding an additional step to an already laborious sanitation protocol may seem daunting, the ATP test results offer peace of mind in knowing processes are solid and brewing crew members are reassured by the instant proof of their efforts. "It just goes to show that even though the tank looks good, it doesn’t mean it is. [The brewing crew] like the fact that when they take a reading and it comes in under 30 RLU, they know they did a really good job."

From the big-picture perspective as an owner, Owen sees the ATP sanitation monitoring as a small investment that pays major dividends. "It does take some more time and cost a few more dollars, but at he end of the day it’s cheaper than dumping a bunch of beer. If this saves me from having to dump any beer at all, it makes sense. I know it’s something I should be doing."

In fact, the small cost of the equipment and consumables for a regular ATP sanitation monitoring programme pales in comparison to the value of a product at risk in a single tank. By preventing a single bad batch in even something as modest as a 5-barrel system, the system pays for itself in one avoided incident. For brewers with even more at stake, the return on investment is a no-brainer.


BY PREVENTING A SINGLE BAD BATCH IN EVEN SOMETHING AS MODEST AS A 5-BARREL SYSTEM, THE ATP SYSTEM PAYS FOR ITSELF IN ONE AVOIDED INCIDENT.


Case 3. Keeping Pace with Rapid Growth
Night Shift Brewing in Everett, Massachusetts

During their move to a new location with increased production and more employees, Night Shift Brewing needed a simpler way to monitor their sanitation regimen that was faster than full microbiological plating.

Director of Quality Matt Eshelmen notes, "Using traditional plating techniques, we don’t get results for 3 – 7 days, depending on the microbe. This is too long to wait when we need to know if we can fill a tank that day. ATP testing provides us with reassurance that our sanitation regimen was successful while we wait for the results from our plates."

Referred to ATP sanitation monitoring by their canning partner, Night Shift’s brewers now use the system in various applications within their ever-growing facility.

UltraSnap surface tests are used most on fermenters, bright tanks and kegs.

The AquaSnap tests estimate microbial load in CIP rinse water samples at the end of the cleaning cycle. With a nearly-instant turn-around time, brewers can quickly know the answer to "Can I fill this tank right now?" In a production environment requiring rapid turn-over, knowing cleaning has worked right away has been key to Night Shift’s productivity.

Case 4. Taking Sanitation Monitoring on the Road
Iron Heart Canning in Manchester, New Hampshire

Mobile canners like Iron Heart Canning are constantly on the offense against cross-contamination. To prevent any issues, Iron Heart uses ATP sanitation monitoring to make sure any residue from a previous run doesn’t contaminate the next brewer’s canned product.

Mobile canner and bottlers provide a convenient service to micro breweries seeking to put their product into the hands of consumers while avoiding the investment. As operator Mark Bowker explains, "to fully implement a canning system, it costs a lot more than if you hire someone to come in who has the expertise and equipment, and has nailed down the CIP procedures."

As part of their procedures, Iron Heart runs a full CIP cycle before and after every run. ATP sanitation monitoring is performed right before any product goes through the system to ensure the equipment is as sanitary as possible. Being able to show clients this proof of sanitation offers on-the-spot assurance.

From an operational perspective, Bowker comments "as a growing company, we are integrating ATP testing to verify our procedures and make sure that critical product points are sanitary and we have a record of that." By ensuring their equipment is as clean as possible, Iron Heart can virtually eliminate the liability of cross-contamination between runs.

Source: Hygiena

Find out more:

Quality Control in the Food, Beverage and Water Industries – using ATP for Monitoring the Presence of Contamination

Hygiene Monitoring System SystemSURE Plus™ – How does it work?

 

 

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