The role of pathogen testing in an environmental monitoring program

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Listeria

The main underlying aspect of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is changing the focus of food safety from a reactionary stance to one that is preventive. A key component of preventive controls is monitoring and cleaning the environment in which food is produced and processed.

Neogen’s extensive line of industry leading diagnostics assist various facilities with environmental monitoring and enable FSMA compliance — quickly, easily, and in the most cost-effective manner.

Pathogens are a significant area of concern and can enter a food processing plant in a variety of ways including by Drain picture 1foot traffic or through drains. This makes pathogen testing extremely important for environmental monitoring programs, which should be tailored to the needs of your facility.  In particular, Salmonella, Listeria and E. coli can be harmful to consumers and may be necessary to monitor.

Salmonella, for example, thrives in hot and dry conditions, especially in environments that produce ready-to-eat foods such as in the food service industry or in retail delis.

Listeria, on the other hand, thrives in wet areas such as drains, making it important to test multiple zones for Listeria contamination. Overall, Listeria is usually a concern in wet, ready-to-eat food production environments, but can be found in any food production plant. Zones 3 and 4 are usually tested for environmental contamination and anywhere food and moisture are present.

E. coli, while not routinely tested for in all environmental monitoring programs, is pH resistant and is appropriate to test for in some environments to ensure consumer safety.

Swab picture 2Rapid diagnostic tests can detect these pathogens and help provide insights into the processing environment and information related to sanitation, cleaning and product quality. Products that do not contain a terminal sterilization rely on a food manufacturer’s ability to maintain a clean environment to produce a safe product. Rapid diagnostics identify areas in a facility that need attention. The faster problem areas are identified, the cleaner, and safer a production environment can become.

Neogen’s various tests, including Reveal® and ANSR® for Listeria, E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella are ideal for environmental monitoring and can help determine if there are pathogens of concern in your facility. Reveal provides users with ready-to-use media, and requires minimal investment in equipment. ANSR uses molecular biology to deliver unambiguous results that are simple and clear in as little as 10 minutes.

In addition, documentation plays a key role in FSMA regulations and requires facilities to prove that preventive actions have Testing picture 3taken place and that they are in fact working. Neogen has the expertise to not only assist with your testing needs but also the knowledge necessary to assist with the required documentation.

For more information regarding FSMA, visit our FSMA resource page, or our environmental monitoring page for more information regarding pathogen, allergen and ATP testing for your integrated environmental monitoring program.

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