Environmental Monitoring for BRCGS: How robust is your program?

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There is no universal blueprint for an environmental monitoring program within the food production industry. Individual companies design and structure their programs based on their own specific manufacturing environment and hazard analysis.

Whatever food you are manufacturing, from apple sauce to zwieback, a robust environmental monitoring plan is a cornerstone of working towards the BRC Global Standards for Food Safety (BRCGS).

We have put together a free downloadable guide to the different tests we recommend to make your environmental monitoring program more robust.

Over the next few weeks we will be breaking down the guide to look at different ways that onsite testing can help you with your environmental monitoring regimes:

Developing an environmental monitoring plan

High-risk food contact areas include conveyor belts on production lines

Developing an environmental monitoring programme starts with mapping out the production process, highlighting zones and specific areas within equipment which are susceptible to higher hygiene risk.

Areas can be broken down into different zones to easily identify the risks they pose based on their proximity to the food and cross-contamination risks, and the ease of cleaning and the condition of the surface being tested:

  • High-risk food contact areas (e.g. slicers, hoppers, conveyor belts, knives, drains, condensate from chillers and freezers)
  • Proximity non-direct food contact areas (e.g. equipment control panels, chiller door handles, equipment framework)
  • Remote non-food contact areas (e.g. hand carts, forklift trucks, floors, walls)
  • Outside areas (e.g. staff rooms, canteens, warehousing for finished product)
  • Assessing the risks of surfaces, the material, porosity, age, accessibility, damage (scratches and marks) and overall condition must be taken into consideration. Limitations are also dependent on whether the surface is in an area considered to be clean processing or sterile food contact.

Through a hazard risk analysis which considers these areas, you can use an environmental monitoring program to monitor potential risks and make proactive changes to reduce them.

Test points can be defined throughout to monitor cleanliness and control the risks of potential contamination. While establishing test points it should be decided if some points will be monitored using ATP system, by microbiological samples (both onsite or sent off to an external lab) or both.

How Can We Help?

At Gem Scientific, we understand that environmental monitoring is a rigorous and multipronged methodology that requires diligent and well thought out management plans.

We are proud to provide a personal service that’s tailored entirely around your business. Our team work with companies to understand their unique requirements, then offer bespoke solutions to suit you.

Contact us today to discuss how we can help you work towards your environmental monitoring goals:

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