Smithfield Foods automates environmental monitoring program

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/Avosb
©iStock/Avosb
Smithfield Foods is using Sample6 Control software to automate its Listeria environmental monitoring program.

They are using it in 12 plants with plans to roll it out to 14 additional sites​.  

The consumer packaged meats company had been using excel and paper-based processes.

Sample6 Control allows automatic notifications of positive test results, the ability to see data history and corrective action tracking when there’s a positive that needs to be addressed.

Smithfield has been testing for environmental Listeria in its plants for decades. When the company began working with Sample6 in September 2015, one of its three divisions included 12 facilities manufacturing ready-to-eat (RTE) products.

The environmental monitoring program involved managing data between multiple departments, from the plant QA professionals and corporate safety directors to the VP of food safety.

Making use of the data

With 1,600 weekly test samples being tracked using manual spreadsheets by two food safety directors, managing this had become complex, labor-intensive and time-consuming and the company was in need of help to track test samples, results, remediation and corrective actions.

The two directors now have more than 30 plants producing RTE foods and that need tracking of environmental samples.

Dustin Ebbing, senior microbiologist and LIMS administrator at Smithfield, said: “We might be able to run these reports and say, ‘Can you show me the Listeria hit rate for all my extended-run plants? Are they significantly higher or lower than my normal production plants? Are my dry sausage plants better than maybe my hot dog plants?’

“We’re at the phase where we’re building a large amount of data in the system and are able to use that data to show people they no longer have to maintain the reports they’ve been maintaining manually.”

A series of short, remote meetings was followed by on-site training and rollout once each plant had an understanding of the application.

Gene Bartholomew, corporate director of food safety, attended a Sample6 event where he learned about the Control software.

“I think we’ve all realized - whether it’s HACCP, whether it’s SSOPs, whether it’s environmental monitoring - it’s getting more complicated every year. Keeping track of paperwork is becoming more difficult every year.”

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