Tag Archives: environmental

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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Associated Illinois Milk, Food & Environmental Sanitarians (AIMFES)

AIMFES is a not-for-profit state corporation dedicated to serving its members and friends by providing timely educational seminars which relate to the production, processing, handling, manufacturing, serving and distribution of safe, high quality foods and also the environmental issues which affect food.

For more information: http://www.aimfes.org/whoweare.html

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Healthy People, Healthy Products, Healthy Planet

earth-day-foodToday is Earth Day, and our blog usually focuses around Nelson-Jameson’s social and environmental sustainability practices. This year, however, we’re taking a “big picture” approach, and exploring the overall food industry’s sustainability outlook. We’ll take a closer look at the ways in which food manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and retailers are taking steps to increase sustainability and reduce waste in the supply chain.

So, what is sustainability? Well, in this context it means that a business’s industrial practices and strategies create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony while permitting the fulfillment of social and economic needs of present and future generations. For the food industry, sustainability is a major strategic issue for the entire food supply chain—agriculture, manufacturing, packing and distribution.  With an expected 60% increase in global food demand by the year 2050, the food industry is facing increasing pressure regarding raw materials, ingredient sourcing and food production in a competitive environment of constant supply chain optimization and control. Given the circumstances, achieving sustainable practices seems pretty daunting. So, what can be done?

One of the largest and most popular initiatives involves focusing on food waste. Food waste is food that is discarded or unusable, and it occurs at all levels of the supply chain. An estimated 40% of all food produced in the United States is never eaten. General food waste solutions focus on three overall strategies—Reduce, Recover and Recycle. Food waste can be reduced by improving product development, storage, packaging, procurement, marketing, labeling and cooking methods. It can be recovered by connecting potential food donors (food service providers, food retailers and food processors) to hunger-relief organizations. Finally, food waste can be recycled to feed animals or to create compost, bioenergy and natural fertilizers. In addition to the positive environmental and social implications, managing and reducing food waste is also advantageous to the food industry’s overall financial health. Food waste is estimated to cost the commercial food service industry in the US approximately $100 billion per year, US consumers approximately $43 billion per year and global food processors approximately $750 billion per year.

Another way in which the food industry is increasing sustainability is through strengthening the links between industry and agriculture. Agribusiness is said to build sustainable food systems by providing more nutritious, healthy and foods and assuring increased food security. Many food manufacturers are reevaluating their ingredient and raw material sourcing, and are finding that building direct relationships with local agribusiness is efficient from both a cost and energy standpoint.

Using environmentally-responsible packaging is another example of a strategy in which many sustainably-minded members of the food industry are engaging. Americans recycle at only an average rate of 34.5%, so the majority of food packaging ends up in landfills or as street litter. Therefore, there’s a general perception that the onus to reduce packaging waste and increase recycling is on the makers of packaged foods and beverages. Although packaging only makes up a small part of a product’s environmental impact, packaging heavily influences buying decisions—especially those of sustainably-minded consumers. Therefore, many manufacturers are seeking ways to reduce plastic and paper waste in their packaging, while finding ways to make it easier for consumers to recycle, reuse or compost that packaging.

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