How do ATP sanitation monitoring systems work?

ATP (adenosine triphosphate) sanitation monitoring systems have evolved into the current “gold standard” for food and beverage production facilities to monitor their sanitation efforts. The science behind the ATP systems stems from the study of fireflies.

In fireflies, two chemicals, luciferin and luciferase, combine with the ATP in their cells to produce light. This reaction, referred to as bioluminescence when it’s in nature, and chemiluminscence when incorporated into a commercial product, is the basic principal of all ATP sanitation monitoring systems.

The second major element of an ATP sanitation monitoring system is the use of a luminometer to measure the light produced by the reaction of ATP with luciferin and luciferase. The luminometer contains a device, either a photo-multiplier or photo-diode, that detects the amount of light that is being produced from the chemiluminescent reaction occurring in the sampling devices.

When you rub the ATP sampler or swab across a surface, ATP is collected on the sampling tip. When you activate the device, typically by pushing the plunger through the cartridge, the ATP on the sampling tip mixes with luciferin and luciferase contained on a reagent pad or in a liquid mixture.

Since the amount of luciferin and luciferase are fixed, the amount of light that is produced by the chemiluminescent reaction is directly proportional to the amount of ATP collected. So the correlation works like this: The dirtier the surface was when it was sampled, the more ATP is collected, and the more light is produced. The luminometer reads the light, typically by averaging a series of readings over several seconds, and reports the reading in relative light units (RLU’s).

To learn more about how Neogen’s ATP sanitation monitoring system works, check out our website here.

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