Ensuring maximum sample recovery when monitoring hygiene in food factories is vital, according to Seward.
The firm manufactures the Stomacher paddle blenders and Stomacher accessories used in sample preparation for microbiological analyses.
Seward said this technology used with sponge swabs for hygiene monitoring enables food firms to sample a bigger area than by using just a swab head.
Different approaches can be applied, processing pooled samples in the Stomacher 400 or individual swabs in the Stomacher 80 Biomaster.
Hygiene monitoring importance
Stuart Ray, technical director at Seward, told FoodQualityNews.com that hygiene monitoring is vital to detect bacteria, yeast and mould and pathogens such as Listeria and Salmonella.
“Hygiene monitoring is very important for HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) which sets out testing for raw materials and finished products,” he said.
“Problems can range from having to recall a product to having to destroy batches of products.
“You may have a good quality process in some parts of the factory but if the hygiene in the packing floors, conveyor belts or elsewhere isn’t so good then it can lead to recontamination of the product.”
Hygiene monitoring in food production facilities requires sampling techniques with microbial recovery rates across different species.
The sampling method can use sponge swabs pre-dosed with buffer to swab a surface and to recover the micro flora, the swabs are then processed in the Stomacher 400 Circulator.
Suppliers offer pre-manufactured devices such as 3M and Technical Services Consultants, which can be used with Stomacher products, as a combined approach to tackle the issue, he said.
Maximise sample recovery
Ray said that swabbing a bigger area gives you more chance of finding any contaminants in the sample.
“You swab across an area and put it in the Stomacher bag, that goes in the machine with the paddle and then you can recover the organisms present," he said.
“It is a simple technology for lab technicians in the factory, they come with a tray of sponges, Stomacher bags and put the sample in the bag and then in the Stomacher before a sample is taken in the lab.
“The sample process isolates everything that’s there so it’s important to have a good sample to start with or else it doesn’t matter how good your isolation process is.”
Ray said the firm are members of the IAFP and monitor regulatory authorities such as the USDA to stay across industry developments.
They work with customer feedback, market research and companies such as Leatherhead Food Research to determine industry trends such as rapid methods and bigger diagnostic kits.