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.
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.
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.
As I scroll through Facebook I occasionally see posts challenging the reader to find the correct answer to a relatively simple mathematical equation. While we can look at it and say there must be only one correct answer, there are typically a variety of different answers in the comments below. Are those people responding unable to add, subtract, multiply, and divide? Possibly, but more commonly they forget simple rules called the order of operations. Simply put conduct the math functions in order parentheses, exponents, multiply, divide, add, and then subtract.
This month Cherney features Kea Schmuhl, one of our dedicated Sample Preparations Technicians who looks to clear up some of the misconceptions about working in a testing laboratory. Thank you to Kea for her insight and unique perspective!
When people ask me what I do for a living and I say, “I’m a Sample Preparation Technician,” or work in a “Food Safety Testing Laboratory” they often make generalized assumptions. These thoughts tend to be based on the stereotypes they have seen on TV or read in a book portraying laboratory technicians. However, quite a few of these assumptions are not the case when describing my role as a Sample Preparation Technician at Cherney.
With the holidays just around the corner, it signifies that another year is quickly approaching and with 2017 less than 60 days away, like you we are busy planning for the New Year. Therefore, we are popping the champagne and rolling out the 2017 training schedule earlier than previous years for a simple reason - because you asked for it! Check out our 2017 Cherney College course catalog and make your training budget request before the end of the year. This helps make training a priority for you and your company in 2017. Whether your focus is related to FSMA or improving your laboratory and food safety programs, we’ve got you covered!