Cherney Blog: Inside The Petridish

Your blog resource for education, experience, and a good read!

Cherney Blog: Inside The Petridish

Your blog resource for education, experience, and a good read!

A Tip Before You Ship: Environmental Testing!

Environmental Testing
Be in the know, before it goes!
 
It is important while crafting your Environmental Monitoring Program to consider getting a good representative picture of your production environment. In this blog we’ll be covering areas to target and proper swabs to help you along the way as well as tips for shipping/submitting swabs to your lab.
 
Your environmental monitoring program shouldn’t only consist of the “easy” areas, they should be monitoring the nooks and crannies, the tough spots to clean because that’s where the bacteria like to hang out. Your environmental program’s goal shouldn’t be to swab areas that won’t have positives, but should rather focus on a “seek out and destroy” technique.

What IS that? - It's a Biofilm!

Ew, what’s that sticky, slimy residue?
 

Biofilms are a major factor in pathogen persistence within a food production environment. Biofilms can cause bacterial contamination of food and secondary contamination of food contact surfaces. Common microorganisms that form biofilms, (Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus cereus, Escherichia coli, Listeria, Salmonella, etc) all pose serious food safety risks if they are present in your food processing environment. 

Let's Talk About It: E.coli & Staph

It's time for our final subject in our series "Let's Talk About It"

(aaawwwwwwwwwww!) 
 
I know, I know...
 

It’s sad to reach the end of the series, but don’t worry... there are more informative and educational blogs on the way! Today’s topics are bacterial organisms that you are probably fairly familiar with but before we get into the specific organisms, let’s talk a little bit about toxins.

Let's Talk About It: Coliform & Enterobacteriaceae!

Did you hear about the famous microbiologist who visited 30 different countries and spoke 6 languages?

He was a man of many cultures!
 
And speaking of many cultures, let’s talk about the wide world of indicator organisms!
 
 
An indicator organism is a certain bacteria or group of bacteria that are not necessarily harmful themselves but can indicate that the conditions are prime for a harmful pathogen to be present. Indicator organism(s) can be a broad group of bacteria (E.g. Enterobacteriaceae) or it could be a specific species of bacteria (E.g. Staphylococcus epidermidis) depending on what pathogen you’re concerned with. Testing for indicator organisms can also be used to assess efficacy of cleaning and sanitation programs within your plant or during troubleshooting product issues to quantify spoilage organisms present.

Let's Talk About It: Listeria!

Why are bacteria so bad at math?

It’s because they multiply by dividing!

But honestly, bacterial growth is no joke! Under optimum conditions bacteria divide every twenty minutes. Just one cell can become sixteen million in one eight hour shift! It’s no wonder why cleaning and sanitation within production plants are vital to ensuring a quality product.

Best Sample - Best Results: How to use Environmental Results

As a customer, what do you do with your environmental results? Many of you have your own processes and quality procedures but are you using your results to effectively ensure your sanitation is working?

Best Sample – Best Result: Environmental Sample Timing

During one of my first experiences being audited while working in the food manufacturing world I was asked by the auditor “Is your sanitation program controlling pathogens during the entire production run?”. I immediately responded with a boastful yes! The auditor of course followed up with “Please prove it.” Being relatively new, I temporarily froze as I knew our product results never yielded a positive in my time there but, was fairly certain that was not sufficient proof. Thankfully, I received a quick education as my supervisor presented the auditor with our environmental monitoring results which included pre-operational, operational, and post operational time points. Each sampling time verified something slightly different and was evidence our sanitation program did indeed control pathogens through the entirety of our production runs. The key take-away for me was that an environmental monitoring program must take into consideration when to sample and what each sampling time’s results mean within your Food Safety System.

Best Sample – Best Result: Neutralizing Broths

Have you ever seen or added liquid in your environmental sampling devices and questioned what is it, why is it there, or if all the liquid is the same? I know when I began in food manufacturing and took my first samples, these were questions that arose for me and how these factors were impacting the results. The simple answer is that this liquid is called neutralizing broth and there are multiple types that act differently to protect the sample taken.

Best Sample-Best Result: Compositing Environmental Samples

To composite or not to composite? No, I am not trying to put a Shakespearean twist on this blog, but rather answer a question often asked when sending in environmental samples.

Best Sample-Best Result: EMP Sample Location

A while back as I talked with a manufacturer that was required by their customer to have an environmental monitoring program, they had expressed their confusion in their customer’s response when they shared their monitoring results. The manufacturer was proud to present 3 years’ (the entirety of their program) worth of data in which they never once had a positive result for the target bacteria. The manufacturer thought they had been doing an amazing job while their customer was less than confident with their results. The customer knew that given the manufacturers environment and required sanitation it was highly unlikely to never have a positive result, not because the manufacturer wasn’t taking care but, because of the ubiquitous nature of bacteria. Ultimately, the customer felt that the manufacturer was not sampling the most likely growth areas in their facility and was therefore missing the bacteria.