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Lab personnel work through the same processes for the same reasons because similar protocols are followed. Laboratories will often. Are the cleaning and sanitation practices effective? Has there been cross-contamination within the laboratory? The laboratory environmental monitoring programs EMP , as in a plant, will vary according to the predominant assays performed, lab areas, traffic patterns, air flow, equipment conditions, and even the season.
Careful consideration is made in the development of the program so that it meets the needs of the individual laboratory, while covering the key components that every lab should follow. As those in a food production environment will see, an EMP followed by an in-house or a third-party contract lab adhere to similar steps to ensure that the data generated are accurate, reproducible, and dependable.
Environmental monitoring zones and site list selection.
In any EMP, it is critical to define what constitutes highest risk areas, such as sample contact areas zone 1 , to lower risk areas, such as floors and walls zone 3. The importance of developing a thorough site list and establishing zones cannot be underestimated. There are some Integrated Pest Management IPM steps that can be taken that are universal, such as proper sanitation, inspection of goods entering the plant, constant inspections for incipient infestations, and exclusion practices.
Reducing and removing the food source that is attracting ants and sealing them out of a structure are preventive practices that are applicable to all species. But for the most part, the most effective control measures include properly chosen and applied baits which are species and season specific. With regards to a professional pest management company being necessary, the answer is emphatically, yes. For example, a pest management professional can identify the species, which will lead to where the ants might be living, what they might be feeding on, and how to best manage the issue.
But, not just any pest management company will be qualified to provide effective services for food plants — and the potential cost of an infestation that slips through a poorly trained pest management provider is potentially disastrous. It is the food plant, though, that will need to implement practices such as sealing openings, addressing sanitation issues both inside and outside the facility, and training all staff in what to look for and how to report it.
There are many IPM steps that plant managers can take to discourage ant infestations. Some of the top practices are:. Find and hire a good, qualified pest management company and work closely with them at every step. Identify a point person for the pest management technician to communicate with at every service date, so they can go over the results of the inspection and control measures that have been initiated.
Remember, pest management professionals are dealing with insects and other arthropods that have been successfully inhabiting the earth for millions and millions of years and are as adaptable as any other living things. Ants are small and often hard to see, but populations can quickly build up into large colonies that threaten facilities.
So identifying issues when they are small will greatly increase the chances of preventing more serious issues. Tell your service provider when you see issues and work on instilling sanitation and exclusion practices to help prevent ants and many other pests. Allow the provider to see maintenance records so he or she can make proper recommendations. Pest management professionals are trained to inspect for conditions conducive to infestation, so when they report on such conditions, it is a good idea to correct the deficiencies.
To be at its best, the pest management program in food processing plants, and all food facilities, should always be a partnership between the customer and the service provider. The author is Editor of QA magazine. She can be reached at llupo gie. The E. But even while FDA acknowledged that its whole genome sequencing testing showed the U.
Nor did even this pronouncement come until well after the outbreak began. The lack of information frustrated the produce industry which was being impacted by consumer wariness, as well as professionals across the food industry wanting to understand the issue to take precautions against putting contaminated product on the market. So, what can food processors do to detect and prevent pathogens in ingredients or processed product before it reaches the consumer? Following are 10 steps for prevention and 10 steps for detection to protect your products and consumers from pathogens.
Build a strong food safety culture. A key element in building a culture that takes food safety seriously is proper workforce education and training, said 3M Food Safety Global Scientific Marketing Manager John David. Increasing staff awareness of how food safety issues can arise and ensuring that proper behaviors are being taught and reinforced by company leadership are important steps in ensuring that a facility is consistently producing safe food.
Prevent produce contamination through Good Agricultural Practices, including cultivation and irrigation practices and workforce hygiene, said Hygiena Chief Scientific Officer Martin Easter. Fecal runoff in water and irrigation systems can contaminate crops and pickers have been known to cause cross contamination. This includes raw material control and supplier quality assurance programs; critical control points to reduce or eliminate hazards; segregation of raw and cooked foods; high hygiene standards; restriction of environmental cross-contamination on air, people, equipment, raw materials, pests, water; and finished product testing.
Ensure your pre-requisite programs solidly address, but go beyond, typical program requirements that are aimed at reducing or eliminating pathogen cross contamination. Such programs should include proper hygienic zoning, sanitation procedures, sanitary equipment design, sanitary plant design, and preventive maintenance.
La Vague n°51
Also, David said, facilities should implement best-in-class programs that include the concepts of the Food Safety Modernization Act FSMA preventive controls principles, such as developing effective ways to conduct monitoring, verification, and corrective action; and maintain appropriate records. Have a full understanding of the step-by-step processes of your products, from the moment the ingredients arrive to the moment the finished product leaves the facility to reduce the opportunities for cross-contamination to occur. Review and implement monitoring plans at every step of the product life-cycle, from sourcing and receiving raw material and ingredients through production and packaging of the semi-finished and finished product, David said.
Ensure you are aware of and control all high-risk movement of the product and people. Implement a comprehensive environmental monitoring program as an essential component of your food safety system. If you produce ready-to-eat foods that are exposed to the processing environment, proper implementation and execution of environmental monitoring programs can provide numerous benefits. In addition to preventing product contamination and potential safety recalls by identifying sources of pathogens in the environment and eliminating these hazards, these programs can help to extend product shelf life, improve food quality, and optimize production processes.
Include robust root cause analysis and continuous improvement strategies in your environmental monitoring programs. Instead, take that one step further and determine the underlying cause of the problem, such as enhanced vector swabbing and testing, rather than just controlling a specific outgrowth of it. This is just one example that can provide greater understanding into the root source of the issue. Take a proactive approach and employ strategies to reduce the presence and persistence of pathogens in your environment.
Long-term improvements will have significant benefits — not only on food safety and food quality, but on the efficiency of the production process. Bring the Internet of Things IoT into the world of food safety.
Whether connecting your diagnostics to your supply chain or having software that enables you to trace each touch point, IoT allows the physical elements and pathogen detection to connect with the software that facilitates the movement of goods to consumers in a safe, traceable, and effective manner, said Pathsensors Food Safety Consultant Lead Donald Grim. Test all raw material and finished product for hazards, indicator organisms, and pathogens, Easter said. Identify high-risk raw materials and ingredients and ensure that test methods and protocols validated for these food matrices are used and capable of detecting pathogenic hazards.
For example, David said, foods such as spices, cocoa powder, and vitamin blends can have a negative impact on the recovery or detection of the microorganisms, so it is critical to ensure tests are validated for the specific food matrix being tested. Continuously conduct environmental testing to find and eliminate the cause of pathogen contamination before it impacts product or consumer health. Assurance of food safety cannot be accomplished solely through end product testing. Finished product testing should not be the only method used to test for pathogens, but it does need to be incorporated as verification of your food safety system.
Maintain high hygiene standards to include monitoring of surfaces and rinses for residual products, indicator organisms, and pathogens. Implement methods to monitor for indicator organisms and pathogens, such as total aerobic bacteria, coliform, E.
Environmental Monitoring - Maintaining a Clean Room
Specific pathogen tests will determine the existence of target species and strains like STEC, Salmonella, or Listeria monocytogenes, Easter said. Use rapid pathogen testing methods in your test-and-hold process to overcome the challenges of limited product shelf-life, particularly produce, which allow very little time for pathogen testing.
Rapid detection enables production and distribution decisions to be made with speed and certainty; prevents food waste; and ensures pathogen-free food is moving onto customers. Have pathogen detection equipment that is top of the line, but easy for everyone to use and calibrate, Grim said. So, everyone — from those working on the processing floor every day to the office managers — should know how to use the equipment easily, quickly, and accurately, he explained.
Ease of use is particularly important because those who perform the tests multiple times every day may come from a variety of backgrounds and education levels. Require certificate analysis from your suppliers, Grim added. This certificate guarantees that your produce suppliers are testing for pathogens, so a certificate should be provided with each load to help you identify and isolate any contamination problems.
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What is the economic impact: from grower to consumer? John Bovay, assistant professor and extension economist for the University of Connecticut Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, sees the greatest economic impact of FSMA as affecting small business. For example, multi-unit businesses can repeat practices across several dozen fields or facilities and complete a single set of paperwork to document compliance. Airborne surveys are also made by organizations like the Nuclear Emergency Support Team.
Bacteria and viruses are the most commonly monitored groups of microbiological organisms and even these are only of great relevance where water in the aquatic environment is subsequently used as drinking water or where water contact recreation such as swimming or canoeing is practised. Although pathogens are the primary focus of attention, the principal monitoring effort is almost always directed at much more common indicator species such as Escherichia coli  , supplemented by overall coliform bacteria counts. The rationale behind this monitoring strategy is that most human pathogens originate from other humans via the sewage stream.
Many sewage treatment plants have no sterilisation final stage and therefore discharge an effluent which, although having a clean appearance, still contains many millions of bacteria per litre, the majority of which are relatively harmless coliform bacteria. Counting the number of harmless or less harmful sewage bacteria allows a judgement to be made about the probability of significant numbers of pathogenic bacteria or viruses being present.
Monitoring strategies can produce misleading answers when relaying on counts of species or presence or absence of particular organisms if there is no regard to population size. Understanding the populations dynamics of an organism being monitored is critical. All scientifically reliable environmental monitoring is performed in line with a published programme. The programme may include the overall objectives of the organisation, references to the specific strategies that helps deliver the objective and details of specific projects or tasks within those strategies the key feature of any programme is the listing of what is being monitored and how that monitoring is to take place and the time-scale over which it should all happen.
Typically, and often as an appendix, a monitoring programme will provide a table of locations, dates and sampling methods that are proposed and which, if undertaken in full, will deliver the published monitoring programme. There are a number of commercial software packages which can assist with the implementation of the programme, monitor its progress and flag up inconsistencies or omissions but none of these can provide the key building block which is the programme itself. They provide a means of managing all monitoring data in a single central place.
Quality validation, compliance checking, verifying all data has been received, and sending alerts are generally automated.
Validation of contact plates for environmental monitoring
Typical interrogation functionality enables comparison of data sets both temporarily and spatially. They will also generate regulatory and other reports. One formal certification scheme exists specifically for environmental data management software. This is provided by the Environment Agency in the U. There are a wide range of sampling methods which depend on the type of environment, the material being sampled and the subsequent analysis of the sample. At its simplest a sample can be filling a clean bottle with river water and submitting it for conventional chemical analysis. At the more complex end, sample data may be produced by complex electronic sensing devices taking sub-samples over fixed or variable time periods.
In judgmental sampling, the selection of sampling units i. Judgmental sampling is distinguished from probability-based sampling in that inferences are based on professional judgment, not statistical scientific theory. Therefore, conclusions about the target population are limited and depend entirely on the validity and accuracy of professional judgment; probabilistic statements about parameters are not possible. As described in subsequent chapters, expert judgment may also be used in conjunction with other sampling designs to produce effective sampling for defensible decisions.
For example, a simple random sample of a set of drums can be taken by numbering all the drums and randomly selecting numbers from that list or by sampling an area by using pairs of random coordinates. This method is easy to understand, and the equations for determining sample size are relatively straightforward.
An example is shown in Figure This figure illustrates a possible simple random sample for a square area of soil. Simple random sampling is most useful when the population of interest is relatively homogeneous; i. The main advantages of this design are:. In some cases, implementation of a simple random sample can be more difficult than some other types of designs for example, grid samples because of the difficulty of precisely identifying random geographic locations. Additionally, simple random sampling can be more costly than other plans if difficulties in obtaining samples due to location causes an expenditure of extra effort.
In stratified sampling , the target population is separated into non-overlapping strata, or subpopulations that are known or thought to be more homogeneous relative to the environmental medium or the contaminant , so that there tends to be less variation among sampling units in the same stratum than among sampling units in different strata.
Strata may be chosen on the basis of spatial or temporal proximity of the units, or on the basis of preexisting information or professional judgment about the site or process. Advantages of this sampling design are that it has potential for achieving greater precision in estimates of the mean and variance, and that it allows computation of reliable estimates for population subgroups of special interest. Greater precision can be obtained if the measurement of interest is strongly correlated with the variable used to make the strata.
In systematic and grid sampling, samples are taken at regularly spaced intervals over space or time. An initial location or time is chosen at random, and then the remaining sampling locations are defined so that all locations are at regular intervals over an area grid or time systematic. Cressie, In random systematic sampling, an initial sampling location or time is chosen at random and the remaining sampling sites are specified so that they are located according to a regular pattern.
Random systematic sampling is used to search for hot spots and to infer means, percentiles, or other parameters and is also useful for estimating spatial patterns or trends over time. This design provides a practical and easy method for designating sample locations and ensures uniform coverage of a site, unit, or process. Ranked set sampling is an innovative design that can be highly useful and cost efficient in obtaining better estimates of mean concentration levels in soil and other environmental media by explicitly incorporating the professional judgment of a field investigator or a field screening measurement method to pick specific sampling locations in the field.
Ranked set sampling uses a two-phase sampling design that identifies sets of field locations, utilizes inexpensive measurements to rank locations within each set, and then selects one location from each set for sampling. In ranked set sampling, m sets each of size r of field locations are identified using simple random sampling. The locations are ranked independently within each set using professional judgment or inexpensive, fast, or surrogate measurements.
One sampling unit from each set is then selected based on the observed ranks for subsequent measurement using a more accurate and reliable hence, more expensive method for the contaminant of interest. Relative to simple random sampling, this design results in more representative samples and so leads to more precise estimates of the population parameters. Ranked set sampling is useful when the cost of locating and ranking locations in the field is low compared to laboratory measurements.
It is also appropriate when an inexpensive auxiliary variable based on expert knowledge or measurement is available to rank population units with respect to the variable of interest. To use this design effectively, it is important that the ranking method and analytical method are strongly correlated. In adaptive cluster sampling , samples are taken using simple random sampling, and additional samples are taken at locations where measurements exceed some threshold value. Several additional rounds of sampling and analysis may be needed. Adaptive cluster sampling tracks the selection probabilities for later phases of sampling so that an unbiased estimate of the population mean can be calculated despite oversampling of certain areas.
An example application of adaptive cluster sampling is delineating the borders of a plume of contamination. Adaptive sampling is useful for estimating or searching for rare characteristics in a population and is appropriate for inexpensive, rapid measurements. It enables delineating the boundaries of hot spots, while also using all data collected with appropriate weighting to give unbiased estimates of the population mean.
Grab samples are samples taken of a homogeneous material, usually water , in a single vessel. Filling a clean bottle with river water is a very common example. Grab samples provide a good snap-shot view of the quality of the sampled environment at the point of sampling and at the time of sampling. Without additional monitoring, the results cannot be extrapolated to other times or to other parts of the river, lake or ground-water.
Environmental monitoring - Wikipedia
In order to enable grab samples or rivers to be treated as representative, repeat transverse and longitudinal transect surveys taken at different times of day and times of year are required to establish that the grab-sample location is as representative as is reasonably possible. For large rivers such surveys should also have regard to the depth of the sample and how to best manage the sampling locations at times of flood and drought. In lakes grab samples are relatively simple to take using depth samplers which can be lowered to a pre-determined depth and then closed trapping a fixed volume of water from the required depth.
In all but the shallowest lakes, there are major changes in the chemical composition of lake water at different depths, especially during the summer months when many lakes stratify into a warm, well oxygenated upper layer epilimnion and a cool de-oxygenated lower layer hypolimnion. In the open seas marine environment grab samples can establish a wide range of base-line parameters such as salinity and a range of cation and anion concentrations. However, where changing conditions are an issue such as near river or sewage discharges, close to the effects of volcanism or close to areas of freshwater input from melting ice, a grab sample can only give a very partial answer when taken on its own.
There is a wide range of specialized sampling equipment available that can be programmed to take samples at fixed or variable time intervals or in response to an external trigger. The trigger in this case may be a remote rain gauge communicating with the sampler by using cell phone or meteor burst  technology. Samplers can also take individual discrete samples at each sampling occasion or bulk up samples into composite so that in the course of one day, such a sampler might produce 12 composite samples each composed of 6 sub-samples taken at minute intervals.
Continuous or quasi-continuous monitoring involves having an automated analytical facility close to the environment being monitored so that results can, if required, be viewed in real time. Such systems are often established to protect important water supplies such as in the River Dee regulation system but may also be part of an overall monitoring strategy on large strategic rivers where early warning of potential problems is essential.
In all examples of automated bank-side analysis there is a requirement for water to be pumped from the river into the monitoring station. Choosing a location for the pump inlet is equally as critical as deciding on the location for a river grab sample. The design of the pump and pipework also requires careful design to avoid artefacts being introduced through the action of pumping the water. The use of passive samplers greatly reduces the cost and the need of infrastructure on the sampling location. Passive samplers are semi-disposable and can be produced at a relatively low cost, thus they can be employed in great numbers, allowing for a better cover and more data being collected.
Due to being small the passive sampler can also be hidden, and thereby lower the risk of vandalism.