Overview of Food Safety Routine Testing

By: Sample6 on May 4th, 2016

Print/Save as PDF

Overview of Food Safety Routine Testing

Food Safety Education  |  Sample6  |  Food Safety Culture

Routine testing in regards to microbiological food safety is monitored by the Food Safety Inspection Services (FSIS). Monitoring can be done to a variety of aspects of the food safety plant and with a variety of techniques and machinery.

With that said, there are general guidelines and steps that the FSIS recommends with safety sampling. We also looked into food safety testing around the world and if it varied greatly between the US, Europe and Asia.

what they are, what they measure:

FSIS recommends and requires that all monitoring plans have the "opportunity of detection", as in they check multiple areas of the facility multiple times, and frequently check these areas. There is an assumption of uniform sanitary conditions, which would imply that the chance of contamination throughout the facility is homogeneously distributed throughout the plant.

The sampling is random to ensure that sampling represents as much of the space as possible. With that said, if hot spots are found, those get increased attention.

food safety testing facility

It is very important to be aware of the temperature in the facility itself, but also with the samples. Extended periods of refrigeration and freezing can kill pathogens, therefore resulting in false negative results. The other consideration is the individual requirements for the strain of bacteria specifically being tested for.

Different foods and facilities attract different kinds of bacteria. Be sure to check out our recent blog posts on meeting the bugs to find out which one could be of most concern for you

Microbiology testing in regards to food safety can occur in two ways. Routine testing looks for indicators of contamination in the food plants and/or finished products. Pathogen testing on the other hand looks for specific pathogenic organisms that are known to cause foodborne illnesses. 

around the world:

Generally speaking, food microbiology tests are similar throughout North America, Europe and Asia. The way that samples are collected, the frequency of collection, and the testing methods are what vary dramatically. In-process or environmental facility testing accounts for just 9% of the total testing completed in Asia, while worldwide this number is 25%. Currently, testing the end product accounts for 44-59% of worldwide test attention.

With that said, there is growing attention to the power of in-process testing and environmental monitoring because it stops the contamination at its source.

This is especially the case for pathogen testing in all countries. Pathogen testing is 44% more likely to take place during in-process testing rather than with the end product. Worldwide, routine testing accounts for a majority of the kinds of tests implemented. In North America, routine testing accounts for 76% of tests, in Europe it is 81% and in Asia it is 72% of testing. 

There are variations in the kinds of methods used for analysis of the tests, rather than simply variation in the process to collect samples.

  • For routine testing, North America uses more convenient methods, while Europe usually uses more traditional, culture-based methods.
  • Pathogen testing in North America is also directed towards new, efficient technology. These include molecular and antibody based methods, while Europe still uses more traditional culture methods for pathogen testing. Asia relies the most heavily on more traditional methods. This is true for both routine and pathogen testing.

No more enrichment necessary

Enrichment used to be the only way to ensure that all levels of bacteria could be detected. It only takes one bacterium to cause a serious infection due to their rapid reproduction abilities, so the enrichment process was greatly supported by the FSIS. 

sample6 DETECT/LBecause most food manufacturing plants don’t want to enrich pathogens near their food production, this requires sending samples to an external laboratory facility and 24-48 hours of enrichment process.

By using Sample6 DETECT/L the enrichment step is no longer necessary and the results are still accurate.  Sample6 allows for the speed and flexibility of testing in the food processing facility itself.