Microorganism and pathogen testing are incorporated into environmental monitoring programs to allow continual assessment of cleaning protocols at a microbial level. Target organisms and pathogens are established based on the risks presented in the environment, then a sampling and testing plan is determined based on this assessment.
These may include specific pathogens (e.g. Listeria spp in wet environments or Enterbacteriaceae in dry environments), specific spoilage organisms (e.g. yeast or mould) or indicator organisms (e.g., total plate count, total coliforms). Testing is commonly conducted through onsite testing and environmental swabs, which are then sent offsite to an external laboratory for analysis.
Identifying hazards at a microbial level helps mitigate potential food safety risks in production, allowing them to be appropriately managed to prevent product contamination, product recalls that waste time and money and ensure the safety of both the consumer and the workforce.