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Microbiological tests in Food Packaging

Plastic packaging container

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#1 Yousef


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Posted 22 February 2014 - 07:57 AM

We are food packaging manufacturer, supplying injection molded thin wall containers to food industries.  In order to verify the hygiene standards implemented and fulfill the requirements we are planning to set a procedure detailing the micro biological tests carried out within the plant. 


I appreciate the comments from experts detailing what kind of checks needs to be conducted. Water is supplied to the mold but there isn't any contact with the product.  Further, Municipal water is provided to hygiene room provided at the entrance where employees wash their hands. 


Is it mandatory that potable water to be supplied in this area and what kind of microorganisms are considered to be included while arranging the test?


Product is released from the mold using a vacuum and released later into the conveyor belt.  I think ambient air quality of the plant and air used to release the product from vacuum need to be considered as well, even though, sterilized filters are used at the source.


I appreciate the comments of the experts that could be helpful for me to finalize the procedures defining all requirements.





#2 Slab


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Posted 22 February 2014 - 11:51 AM

Hi, Yousef;


Do you mean you have a supply of non-potable water in the facility?  It's used as a cooling jacket in manufacturing equipment I would presume?  As long as risk assessment can proof that no contact is made with finished goods nor cross connections with potable water source (i.e. closed system circulation), and same water is not used during sanitation, then I can see no reason for a potability certificate.  



Minimum for potability;


Total coliform - absent

Fecal/e. coli - absent

Heterotrophic/TBC <100/ml (I could very well be wrong on this limit)


You may also test for organics/inorganics by regulation(s)

If you use an outside lab they will be able to better advise you on regional regulation. 

Food Safety News  Marine Stewardship Council


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#3 Gunapathi


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Posted 23 February 2014 - 12:45 AM

Hi Yousef,


I believe the plastic is hot extruded. If so they are sterile to start with and moreover do not support any growth of bugs. Ideal requirement would be;


1. Filtered air.

2. Employee hygiene.

3. Training of employee not to handle the packaging by touch the food contact surface.

4. Hygiene should include sickness and open cuts etc.


Periodical air monitoring to check the bio burden would help.

A filtered positive air pressure inside the manufacturing room would help

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#4 Charles.C


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Posted 23 February 2014 - 06:27 AM

Dear Yousef,


The partial answer to yr query depends on whether  yr product is a direct food contact surface ?


Assuming yes, there are two aspects to yr OP –


(a) the micro.characteristics of finished product.

(b) the micro.characteristics of environment/other potential contaminants.


I assume that no legislatory requirements exist, otherwise they will prioritise.


(a) - typical data/standards based on previous threads in this forum involve species like APC, coliform. As per previous post, the initially manufacured product may well be sterile so post-production contamination is the only risk.


(b) - Theoretically this involves a sampling risk assessment (eg separation into production zones of probable contact) + basic hygiene factors such as surfaces, handling. Evaluated by swab testing. Typical micro.characteristics are again as (a) although a bad floor scenario can involve items like L. monocytogenes but I imagine this not normally relevant in yr case.


© - The actual / required quality of any contacting  air depends on yr specific control system / use of yr finished product.


Potable water is usually Best Practice within production processes IMEX. The precise BPC requirements are almost certainly defined by yr local legislation, eg according to EC standards, WHO, custom list. Various international ones are available on this forum.


Rgds / Charles.C

Kind Regards,



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