By sliding surfaces in commercial food processing plants with swabs specially designed to quickly test for adenosine triphospate (ATP) – which produce a light similar to the glow of fireflies in the presence of microorganisms – for spoilage and Foodborne illnesses could decrease, according to a new study from food scientists at Cornell University.
During food production, routine cleaning and sanitation of the surface is essential to help prevent microbial contamination in finished food products. Without such a sanitation regime, foods from processing plants may become more vulnerable to spoilage, and people who consume these foods may be at greater risk of illness or death from foodborne pathogens.
“Food scientists know that for processing plants, visual inspection is not a reliable indicator of the success of the cleaning protocol,” said Randy Worobo, professor of food science at the College of Agriculture and Life. Sciences (CALS) and professor at the Cornell Atkinson Center. for durability. “All ‘ecosystems’ of food factories are prone to niches where microorganisms can hang out or where food residues can linger. We have to find them.
Worobo is the lead author of the study, “Implementing ATP and Microbial Indicator Testing for Hygiene Monitoring at a Tofu Production Facility Improves Product Quality and Conditions for Production. ‘hygiene of surfaces in contact with food: a case study’, which published on February 12 in Applied and environmental microbiology.
Each year, more than 48 million Americans become ill from foodborne pathogens; more than 120,000 are hospitalized and about 3,000 die, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Review of the effectiveness of an environmental monitoring program using the 3M Clean-Trace Hygiene Monitoring and Management System for ATP monitoring, in combination with 3M Petrifilm Plates, for enumeration microbiological – Worobo and lead author Jonathan H. Sogin, a food science doctoral student, in partnership with 3M Food Safety Microbiologists, spent nine months testing samples taken from the processing environment at a commercial tofu manufacturing plant .
Worobo, Sogin, and the 3M Food Safety Team developed a personalized plan to use an ATP swab test to check dozens of critical points in the plant after it was cleaned. After use, the ATP swab is placed in a luminometer instrument, where the bioluminescence of the contaminants is detected.
The amount of light is transformed in the luminometer into relative light units, where this value is displayed on the instrument. If it exceeds a defined threshold value, the surface will be considered dirty and may indicate that the cleaning operations were not carried out correctly.
The results show that targeted cleaning – demonstrated by ATP monitoring and verified by other microbiological tests – can improve the environmental hygiene of food processing facilities.
“If a factory supervisor is in charge of the cleaning crew and the supervisor says, ‘It’s not clean enough’, an employee may think the supervisor is going after them.” , Worobo said. “Instead, if you have a luminometer, like the 3M Clean-Trace System, this device removes the bias so that the cleaning crew themselves can see the numbers. These methods become a quantitative way to make sure that they are doing a good job. “
ATP monitoring and microbiological enumeration can verify and improve the efficiency of cleaning and sanitation practices, which can have a positive impact not only for the facility, but also for the quality of the product, said Sogin.
“This test can not only verify that plant equipment and food contact surfaces are cleaned and sanitized before starting food preparations, it can also identify problematic situations. It helps you become a detective.” , Worobo said. “But as a standard, the industry should use this method to verify cleaning and sanitation programs. This is the key.”
In addition to Worobo and Sogin, contributors included Maro Çobo, technician, Cornell AgriTech; and Technical Applications Specialists Cari Lingle and Gabriela Lopez-Velasco, Director of Technical Sales Burcu Yordem and Director of Global Scientific Affairs John M. David, all of 3M.
This study was supported by a 3M-sponsored research contract, with additional funding from the US Department of Agriculture and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
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Material provided by Cornell University. Original written by Blaine Friedlander. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.