Soaking Up Food Safety

An essential part of any robust environmental sampling program is ensuring concise, representative samples. Without ensuring the quality of a sample, one can certainly not ensure the quality of a sampling program, or the quality of one’s product.

One of the most popular methods of surface sampling used by our customers in the food industry are sponge samplers for larger areas (swabs being used most often for smaller and harder-to-reach areas). Often composed of cellulose or polyurethane, sponge samplers are everyday essentials for our food industry customers, that help proactively mitigate against environmental contamination concerns. Though a common, daily practice in a food processing facility, it is useful to occasionally revisit sampling techniques to ensure the best representative samples are being taken by employees.

So, if you haven’t revisited your sampling best practices lately, here is what the CDC recommends for proper sampling with a cellulose sponge. Though, specifically cited in a piece regarding Bacillus anthracis, the following is a great model to consult with for sampling methodology, overall.

Cellulose Sponge Sampling Procedure:

  1. Wearing a clean pair of gloves over existing gloves, place the disposable template over the area to be sampled and secure it. If a template cannot be used, measure the sampling area with a disposable ruler, and delineate the area to be sampled with masking tape. The surface area sampled should be less than or equal to 100 in2
    (645 cm2).
  2.  Remove the sterile sponge from its package. Grasp the sponge near the top of the     handle. Do not handle below the thumb stop.
  3.  If the sterile sponge is not pre-moistened, moisten the sponge by pouring the 10 mL container of neutralizing buffer solution over the dry sponge.
  4. Wipe the surface to be sampled using the moistened sterile sponge by laying the widest part of the sponge on the surface, leaving the leading edge slightly lifted. Apply gentle but firm pressure and use an overlapping ‘S’ pattern to cover the entire with horizontal strokes.
  5. Turn the sponge over and wipe the same area using vertical ‘S’ strokes.
  6. Use the edges of the sponge (narrow sides) to wipe the same area using diagonal ‘S’ strokes.
  7. Use the tip of the sponge to wipe the perimeter of the sampling area.
  8. Place the head of the sponge directly into a sterile specimen container. Break off the head of the sponge by bending the handle. The end of the sponge handle, touched by the collector, should not touch the inside of the specimen container. Securely seal and label the container (e.g., unique sample identifier, sample location, initials of collector, and date and time sample was collected).
  9. Place the sample container in a re-sealable 1-quart plastic bag. Securely seal and label the bag (e.g., sample location, data and time sample was collected, and name of individual collecting the sample). Specimen containers and re-sealable bags may be pre-labeled to assist with sampling efficiency.
  10. Dispose of the template, if used.
  11. Remove outer gloves and discard. Clean gloves should be worn for each new sample.

Nelson-Jameson offers a wide variety of environmental sampling supplies to help you keep your program in top order. You can check out our Environmental Testing Solutions webpage here. We also have a new collection of scrub samplers from 3M™ to peruse here, that feature a metal detectable stick and a 96 hour hold time. For more information on environmental sampling, contact one of our product specialists today!

Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012, January 30). CDC – Surface sampling procedures for Bacillus anthracis spores from smooth, non-porous surfaces – NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/emres/surface-sampling-bacillus-anthracis.html#.

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It’s Getting Hot in this Processing Environment!

Summer is approaching and that means temperatures are rising and it’s going to start getting HOT! For most of us summer and warm temperatures correlate with going to the beach, having a picnic, or enjoying the outdoors for the few months of warm weather we have (at least here in Wisconsin!), but one idea we want to make sure doesn’t get forgotten is staying hydrated, and this includes during work hours too!

Fluids, electrolytes, and heat stress products are our friends all year round, but especially on those pesky, humid summer days at work. Depending on the processing facility, temperatures can easily reach 100°F+ on a hot summer day. These high-temperatures can be dangerous, and could lead to severe injury such as heatstroke and heat exhaustion, if a person is not properly hydrating. Hydrating regularly, and staying cool has many added health benefits associated with it that can help the body daily, this includes: keeping our skin healthy, optimum digestion, eliminates toxins in the body, and optimize the energy produced through our cells (Choi, pp. 6).

Many individuals are not aware of how important staying hydrated is, especially during the workday. A recent survey was conducted on how much financial loss is estimated in decreased productivity each year due to employee dehydration. The recorded amount was $2.5 billion (Choi, pp. 10). To avoid these situations, employers should take advantage of workplace hydration program for employees, and provide heat stress products when needed.

Nelson-Jameson offers a variety of products that can help your business stay running efficiently, and keep your employees hydrated and healthy. Sqwincher™ drink mixes provide the optimal combination of fluids and electrolytes to keep your employees hydrated. They are perfect for hot, humid food processing environments. In addition to thirst quenchers, we also have Heat Stress Products, which contain unique water-activated cooling crystals. All employees need to do is immerse the bandana, neck wrap, or hard hat liner in cold water for 5 to 15 minutes, and it will keep them cool all day. Another option is a cooling vest. The Radians Arctic Radwear® Cooling Vests are made with Advanced ARCTIC™ Technology that uses a unique 3-layer fabric system which absorbs, stores, and releases water to keep your body temperature cool and safe. You just immerse the vest for 1 to 2 minutes, wring, and wear.

Make sure to help keep your employees hydrated and cool this summer! With temperatures increasing everyday, it’s important to keep these products on hand, to help your employees stay safe and healthy.

Sources:

Choi, J. (2017, October 27). Why It’s Important To Drink More Water At Work. Lifehack. https://www.lifehack.org/639312/why-its-important-to-drink-more-water-at-work.

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Nelson-Jameson Does That, Too?

As an employee of Nelson-Jameson for seven years now, I am continuously impressed with the number of projects and developing capabilities that are in process. All of these undertakings are done with one aim in mind: to help our customers create safe, quality food in the most efficient way possible. With this in mind, we actively seek out services, above and beyond our products and programs, to holistically meet our customer’s needs. Here are just a few of the programs that we offer, that you may not be aware of: 

Lab Design & Furniture: Yes, you read that right! We partner with PSA Lab Furniture to offer lab design and lab furniture services. Through this partnership, we are able to offer free design plans and estimates for your next lab revamp or new lab construction. We’re talking hoods, surface tops, cabinets, etc. Coupled with our wide range of lab instrumentation, equipment, and suppliers, we can help you build a lab from the ground up. Our lab and sales team can help you learn more at lab@nelsonjameson.com.    

Biofilm Audit and Treatment: If you have recurring hygiene and contamination issues, biofilms could be the culprit. Well known for their tenacity, biofilms can cause major headaches for processors, not to mention serious potential food safety issues. We work with Realzyme to provide in-person biofilm audits in your facility of OPC and CIP installations. The pros at Realzyme will then create a customized curative treatment to combat any biofilms present. Finally, you’ll receive a preventative treatment program, ensuring productivity, product quality, and bonus, you’ll see extended shelf lives for your products. Talk to your Account Manager today to help check into availability and rates, or email us at p.puttkamer@nelsonjameson.com for more information! 

Hand Hygiene Training:  Working with one of our strategic partners, Best Sanitizers, we can help your employees learn more about a key frontline effort for ensuring food safety -proper handwashing techniques. Best Sanitizers does a phenomenal job educating and allowing your employees to see the realities of improper handwashing, including cross-contamination concerns. The comprehensive training includes an informational session, handwashing demonstration featuring Glo-Germ® products, a Q&A session, and a certification for those individuals taking part. Drop us an email at j.pankratz@nelsonjameson.com to check into training availabilities.

Kaestner Services: Our sister company, Kaestner is your go-to for preventative maintenance services for the food, dairy, and beverage processing industries. Specializing in sanitary valve and actuator services, sanitary gasket plate heat exchanger services, as well as sanitary pump services, Kaestner’s team is on the ground and keeps operations moving. Contact Kaestner at sales@kaestnerllc.com to check on availability in your area!

If any of the above services were a surprise to you, well, buckle up, because this is just the start! Nelson-Jameson can help you with color-coded program audits, ingredients selection, sanitation chemical optimization, packaging trials, and many other services. Touch base with us today and let’s find the right comprehensive solutions for your operation.

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Go Green with Nelson-Jameson!

Happy Earth Day! This widely observed holiday is the perfect time to look back on the past year and reflect on each of our personal carbon footprints. How have we impacted climate change, global warming, and sustainability? I would say this last year the carbon footprint has been reduced compared to previous years due to the pandemic, especially in the earlier half of the year. Not only is this a time to reflect on our personal lives, but also on businesses nationwide. Nelson-Jameson has been doing our part of minimizing our carbon footprint by offering many eco-friendly products. From biodegradable gloves and paper products, to antibiotic test kits, and even turbidity sensors, we have the eco-friendly products needed to help reduce excess waste throughout any processing facility.

I would assume many individuals are questioning if sustainability is still a core focus in company values today, and the rightful answer is yes. Microsoft, a multinational company, stated this year that they pledge to become a carbon-negative company within 10 years (Scheel, 2021, pp. 2). Businesses across the world are still choosing to become even more sustainable for common reasons such as promoting efficiency, improving brand value, and innovation, a trend that seems to be sticking around for the long haul (Sustainable Business Network, pp. 4). How does the topic of sustainability affect the food, beverage, and dairy industries you may ask? Well, it does significantly.

With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, sustainability is at the forefront of consumers minds when it comes to food. Consumers are expanding from not only caring about sustainability from the retailer perspective, but they also are intrigued to know each company that touches the food along the way has sustainability initiatives in place.

Nelson-Jameson offers eco-friendly product options that cover a variety of areas within a processing facility, including:

Safety Products: Biodegradable Gloves, Recyclable Beard Covers, and more.

Janitorial/Sanitation Products: Sanitizers, Soaps, and more.

Laboratory Products: Environmentally friendly Antibiotic Test Kits, ATP Swabs, Protein Residue Tests, and more.

Process Equipment: Anderson-Negele® Paperless Process Recorder, Turbidity Sensors, Conductivity Sensors, Alfa Laval OS Twin Screw Pump, and more.

Whether you plan to celebrate Earth Day by cleaning up garbage at a local park, or evaluating your businesses sustainability values and initiatives, remember to keep in mind that sustainability is key to promoting brand value for a business. To dive further into what eco-friendly products Nelson-Jameson has available, visit our website or contact us today.

Sources:

Scheel, R. (2021, February 03). Council post: Sustainability In 2021: Everything Companies Should Know. Retrieved April 16, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/02/04/sustainability-in-2021-everything-companies-should-know/?sh=6029e663208c

Why Should My Business Become More Sustainable? (n.d.). Retrieved April 16, 2021, from https://sustainable.org.nz/guide-to-sustainability/

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Don’t Be in a Brush Rush…

Ah, the beauty and purity of a new cleaning tool. Freshly removed from any packaging, and unsullied by the elements: nothing but possibility ahead of it. Whether you enjoy opening new tools as much as I apparently do, or you are more in the “pop it open, because there is a ton of stuff to do” camp, there are a few tips that our friends from Remco have provided to get the best out of your new cleaning tool. These simple steps help to ensure safety before the first use.

How to Prepare a New Cleaning Tool for Use
New cleaning tools—especially those sealed in plastic pouches like the ones from Vikan® and Remco—often look like they’re ready for use right out of the bag. It’s easy to assume these tools can start sweeping, mopping, and brushing right away, however, as most in the food industry know, looking clean isn’t the same as actually being clean. Here are a few steps that must be taken to ensure all new tools are ready for use in food production plants:

Remove Any Labels
Vikan® and Remco both apply labels directly to some of their products, as do many other cleaning tool manufacturers and distributors. Ideally, these labels will peel off easily, especially when they’re dry. If there’s a problem removing a label or there’s residual stickiness, simply use a washrag with warm water and soap, or use a sponge soaked in vinegar to remove the label and any adhesive left behind. It’s easier to peel labels when they’re dry, but a little extra effort may be needed for particularly stubborn adhesives. It’s essential to remove the label and adhesive fully, as the sticky residue can be a trap for debris and bacteria.

Clean the Tool
New tools may seem clean, but they’re produced in factory environments that do not have the same rigorous sanitation requirements as food manufacturing facilities. Put new tools through an industrial dishwasher or hand wash them, depending on what the plant’s HACCP plans call for during the tool’s regular usage. Either cleaning option may help remove any remaining label residue, along with preparing the tool for its first use. Don’t make the mistake of assuming a broom or a squeegee that will be used in a low-risk environment is “clean enough” when it comes out of the package. The tool should still be cleaned.

Sanitize for High-Risk Conditions
Decide how clean a tool should be before use, follow HACCP plans for how they’ll be cleaned during their regular usage. If a tool will be used in a high-risk environment, it should be sterilized before its first use, ensuring any microbes that may have contaminated the item before it arrived to you are fully destroyed. If a tool is going to be used in a low or medium-risk facility, simply cleaning and sanitizing the tool should be enough for it to be used safely.

Dry the Tool
No tool is clean without having been dried first. Whether by hanging it or by putting it through an industrial dishwasher’s drying cycle, tools must be dry to be considered clean. This helps prevent mold and other microorganism growth and ensures the tool is ready for use.

Once these steps are complete, the tools are ready for their designed purposes in food processing plants. Remember to maintain tools by keeping them free of debris and cleaning them frequently. Regular maintenance—starting with these first steps—will keep tools hygienic and help them last longer.

Nelson-Jameson carries a wide selection of color-coded products, including the full line of Remco products. Contact us today to learn more about the many ways Nelson-Jameson and our industry partners can help you get the tools you need on your pathway to creating safe, quality food.

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