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Acceptable limits for hands swabbing and other surfaces

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#26 elisa05


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Posted 05 August 2016 - 03:22 AM



can anyone provide me their swab test specification on total plate count and coliforms on food contact surface and worker's hand?



#27 Charles.C


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Posted 05 August 2016 - 04:12 PM

Hi Elisa,


For purposes of comparison, the bacterial counts for a surface typically need to be expressed with respect to a reproducible area, either directly (eg per cm2) or via an object with a standard surface area (eg a “standard” hand or a  “standard” shape/volume milk container).

The option may also relate to the shape of the object, eg flat or irregular but ideally the first method is preferred.

Either way, “swabbing” is carried out by a standard method over a designated flat area/object so as to finally generate a certain volume of  liquid from the swab, say X ml. ( methods other than "swabbing"  also exist, eg using direct contact materials).

X  is then sampled/analysed for total count, total coliform etc and the result referred back to the original sample area thus enabling a count per unit area, eg Ycfu /cm2.


As far as specific standards for hands/food contact surfaces (fcs) are concerned, afaik there is no Global consensus but some countries have issued their own standards/limits. For example, as illustrated within the older thread (eg Excel sheet)  linked  in Post 6 of this current thread, India has a maximum APC of 100cfu/cm2 for both hands/fcs.


Malaysia may have such a local Standard. Unfortunately I didn’t see one in the Literature when I carried out the review in the Excel sheet referred above but it maybe exists. If there is no local Standard I guess you will have to refer to an external value/opinion.


Hope the above makes sense.

Kind Regards,



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