3M hygiene monitoring system verifies surface cleanliness

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

The 3M Clean-Trace Hygiene Monitoring and Management System
The 3M Clean-Trace Hygiene Monitoring and Management System
3M Food Safety has launched an updated hygiene monitoring and management system.

The Clean-Trace Hygiene Monitoring and Management System is meant to give food processors greater confidence and peace of mind, said the firm.

Time to result is 40% faster than the previous system at less than eight seconds.

System components

It consists of a luminometer handheld device, tests and a software platform.

Customers collect water and surface samples and if they have any adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an energy molecule found in all organic cells, a chemical reaction inside the test produces a low level of light.

The test is inserted into the 3M Clean-Trace Luminometer, which displays a result in relative light units (RLU). The more light produced, the greater the contamination.

It is capable of detecting light down to a single photon per second. The minimal perception of human threshold is 100,000, according to the firm. 

Tom Dewey, 3M Food Safety global marketing manager, said it has had customer events in Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam as well as Mexico and the system will be on display during IAFP July 31-August 3.

“Some decisions were made early on - we went with the photomultiplier technology to read down to single photons,” ​he said.

“The customer wanted improved accuracy, time to result and being able to trust the result and robust to survive in the environment. What we heard early on from customers was it has got to be fast.”

Cleaning validation and verification

Food safety managers need rapid testing to dependably identify potential contamination in facilities and make the decision about whether or not to start production but typical microbial tests take days to deliver a clear result, delaying food production release and shipments, said 3M.

The system enables food safety professionals to verify surfaces have been effectively cleaned in seconds, for better decision making and audit preparedness, it added.

3M Food Safety interviewed and observed hundreds of food manufacturing professionals across functions such as sanitation, quality, plant and lab management when designing the system.

Due to this, the system was re-engineered with photomultiplier detectors, the software upgraded and the Luminometer made more durable.

Dewey said if cleaning is not effective, contamination or food residues can be left behind and it can indicate a need to re-clean depending on parameters the firm has set.

“Hygiene monitoring is part of an environmental management plan, our system is easy for the customer to take an existing list and download into our system. We didn’t want to force existing customers into getting a new system so both work compatibly. You can download existing data, test plans and results and it populates the dashboard so can do analysis right away.

“We have set up an organizational hierarchy, so with one plant and one line it is easy, you are done, but several plants and lines you have four levels of hierarchy you can put in.

“Around 25-30% [of companies] don’t let employees take the hardware onto the floor in case they drop it or bang it on machinery and they are going back and forth which takes time.

“With swabs, clipboard and you are often gowned up – the ability to use system with one hand is very important to customers.”

Making use of the data

The software can collect data to make the high-risk decision to start food production, said Dewey.

“What else can you do with the data – successfully pass audits, when you fail you can look at what happened and what did you do to fix it. The data you have to collect but it is made into information they can act on such as report generation and sample plan generation at one click away.

“In the manufacturing environment you need to provide value and enable them to make a better product better for their customer, improve operational efficiency and profits and meet regulatory requirements, so you can use the system as an opportunity to show how to clean effectively.”

Dewey said it does not recommend pass/fail limits but it does have guidelines.

“We recommend to the customer when they first get the system to test and let the current process determine what the levels should be," ​he said.

“The software can track and trend a point over time and you can lower it if you pass every time and if the goal is continuous improvement.

“It depends what you make and how, what you clean with and how but you can set 20-50 test points and have different pass limit for different sampling plans.”

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