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Listeria in High Risk Foods!


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#1 DonnaC

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 09:13 AM

I'm in my work placement for university, I recently started in a cooked bacon company in May 2014. We have had a few issues with Listeria in the finished product. 

 

I just need some advice on getting rid of it as there is no other quality team members in the factory and I've just been threw into it with minimal training (not to make excuses lol)  :helpplease:

 

Is there any early detection tests I can carry out? we don't have a Lab on site and it takes 6 days to get any results from the outside Lab we are working with.

 

Any advice will be beneficial as I just received an email that our quality consultants wont be back to January!

 

Thanks in advance

 

Donna :)



#2 cazyncymru

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 10:03 AM

My first bit of advice is to get a new consultant! Seriously!

 

There are rapid tests out there. Speak to your external lab. they may be able to offer you something that isn't necessarily on their UKAS accreditation certificate, but could help you with positive release. They also have microbiologists that will come out and visit and help you investigate.

 

What are your environmental swabs like? have you noticed hot spots. It may be worth you plotting on a map of the production / storage areas to see where you get positive results. This will help you draw up your plan of action.

Have you typed / identified the Listeria? is it the same every time?

If you are picking up listeria environmentally, get your cleaning supplier in to work with you. That's why their there.

 

I'm sure others will add. The main thing is, don't panic!

 

Caz x



#3 DonnaC

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 10:11 AM

See the consultants created everything here like all the HACCP Micro environment swabbing and sampling. The swabbing was pretty basic like 10 per week in general areas like the tops of machines etc we recently had an audit and the auditor tore it to shreds as well as myself (she doesnt know im only a student in my 1st year) 

 

Its multiple types Listeria m. listeria welsh and lisetria s. I'm really not an expert on this so I'm very much feeling the pressure atm.

 

Its not a cleaning supplier per-say its a safety supply company and their chemicals are not industrial at all  but I have a meeting with Eco-Lab tomorrow morning to get advice as well   

 

Donna x



#4 fgjuadi

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 10:13 AM

Caz has given you good advice - esp about a consultant.  You can't fight Listeria alone, it gets all up in there & takes up house.

 

To get rid of it -

  • Find it (with swabbing / hot spots) - Looks for Wet areas - leaking pipes, puddles, cracks in equipment, where equipment feet hit the floor, floor scrubbers,  - you'll want to do a ton of swabbing.  It can get expensive.
  • Keep foot traffic away once you found it
  • Clean it with quaternary ammonia or peracetic acid - swab for a few days after cleaning to make sure it is gone
  • Create a foot traffic control or footwear control program (lots of work)

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#5 Quality Ben

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 03:39 AM

Hi Donna,

 

You mention it is high risk but is it RTE??



#6 DonnaC

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 06:10 AM

Thanks Caz and Magneta 

 

Yes Ben it is and thats the most worrying part all my environmental swabs are coming back clear as well ?

 

Donna 



#7 cazyncymru

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 07:53 AM

If you are making a RTE / High risk product then I would think / act very carefully. You could potentially kill someone here. I don't want to frighten you, but the fact that you've detected Listeria monocytogenes is concerning. Have you have it enumerated? what is the count at SOL / EOL?

 

If your environmental swabs are coming back clear, then I would say your looking in the wrong places!

 

Couple of questions / observations

 

Seriously, if a consultant can't avail himself for 3 months, then it's time to move on!

  • Is footwear captive to the area? if not, then you need to make it So!
  • If they are captive, do you have a boot bath? if so how often is it changed? take a sample from there and get it tested. If not, don't buy one. they just harbour bacteria unless you have a really good cleaning regime.
  • Swab the bottom of a shoe. Swab near the door on the way in. Swab walk ways
  • Do your operators / engineers have to climb onto the equipment for any reason? If so then that practice HAS TO STOP! Get them a step ladder!
  • As Magenta said, look in places to swab where water is settling. Your swabbing regime should include drains, cold room floors, if there's cracks anywhere (including the floor / tiles) If tiles are cracked, get them replaced.
  • Do you have BRC? if you do then I'm stunned that you've been able to buy chemicals from a company that isn't a dedicated cleaning company and that they would draw up cleaning schedules with you. Unfortunately , in a factory, bleach & fairy liquid don't quite work.
  • I'm assuming that your external lab is UKAS accredited? I'm also surprised that your account manager hasn't been in touch t talk about your positive results.
  • Are you testing for Entros? what are those results coming back like?
  • If management don't take it seriously, then it might be time to leave .
  • Talk to your EHO. they don't bite!

We're here if you need help ok. Some of us have had to live through problems like this.

Caz x



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#8 DonnaC

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 08:05 AM

The staff wear non slip steel toe capped boots and don't need to climb on anything. 

 

I haven't swabbed the boots and they only put the foot bath out when an auditor is coming so I'm going to make them have it all the time and change it regularly. 

 

We have our BRC Grade A we got it there in July. There is issues with revenue and a budget for lab testing and I seriously cannot stress enough to my employer the importance of Micro swabbing and sampling. 

 

www.pjdsafetysupplies.com is where we get our chemicals from I'm assuming this was the cheapest place to buy from 

 

Cleaning detergent:

HEAVY DUTY DEGREASER - SELOSOL
C012 4x5L
All purpose detergent kitchen degreaser. Removes oil, grease and fats from floors, walls, canopies,
deep fat fryers, and working surfaces with ease. Does not contain solvents, acids or caustics.
Odourless, will not taint foodstuffs – safe for use in food processing areas. Controlled foam, no
excessive rinsing required, may be used through mechanical floor scrubbers, and high pressure
equipment.

 

I have swabbed everywhere (except the boots) even taken the machines apart and underneath them. I'm seriously at a loss to the point I feel like I'm not doing the job right 



#9 fgjuadi

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 10:50 AM

Take out your rocket launching fogger and paint the town peracetic acid pink.  Actually I don't know anything about those, but at least get a $20 foamer and foam with peracetic acid or quat.  The chemical you listed is fine for a degreaser, but you need a sanitizer.  Better yet, get a chemical rep.

 

Caz gave excellent advice- drains will usually have something because everything that gets washed goes down the drain. Also raw materials trailers, forklift tires, transitions from raw to processed.  You have to use a foot bath all the time, and change it frequently because they are tiny Listeria hotels. But my favorite thing Caz said was


 

Seriously, if a consultant can't avail himself for 3 months, then it's time to move on!

  • If management don't take it seriously, then it might be time to leave .

Caz x

 

You'll be doing yourself a favor - Don't worry, you're probably not doing a bad job.  I've worked in a place with ~20 QAs, some very experienced,  and we still had to call in a consultant once to help us find a contamination.  If the company is pulling out dog and pony shows for an auditor and won't/can't dedicate resources (swabbing, QA staff, or a better consultant) for you - they are in for a rude awakening.  It's really helpful when you're starting to have someone on site you can learn from.


Edited by magenta_majors, 03 October 2014 - 10:53 AM.

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#10 KevinB

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 03:24 PM

Hi Donna,

 

I hate to push one Manufacture over the other but Ecolab distributes a product call Boost 3200 and 32001. It is a two part chemical that has been proven to break down bio films and contains Quaternary Ammonia to sanitize. It is USDA AND FDA approved for food contact surfaces so it can be used anywhere in the facility. I am attaching a Listeria seminar that we got from the RFA (refrigerated foods association) this is now part of our required training.One other area that you may want to test is your air lines if your product is vacuum sealed. 

Hope this helps and good luck.

Kevin

Attached Files



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#11 Mike Green

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 06:19 PM

probably just summarising all of the excellent points above- but there is quite a nice  'Listeria Control' checklist at the end of the attached

 

Mike

Attached Files


I may sound like a complete idiot...but actually there are a couple of bits missing

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#12 Charles.C

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Posted 04 October 2014 - 06:30 AM

Dear donna,

 

We have had a few issues with Listeria in the finished product.

 

The relevance of the replies may depend on what this actually means (if it's not proprietary knowledge). eg  X audits (?)  found what / where/ how /who ?

 

"Listeria", as such, is not a specific pathogen of course. Albeit a convenient official indicator.

 

As already indicated, micro.hunting for a low level contaminant can be exhausting. Gross contamination is something else.

 

Few more ideas here - 

 

http://www.ifsqn.com...rol/#entry55872

 

http://www.ifsqn.com...indpost&p=67055

 

Rgds / Charles.C


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#13 DonnaC

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 12:30 PM

Hi everyone!

 

Need some advice on swabbing. 

 

A customer of ours has had a hit of listeria in their High Risk RTE product, they came for an audit and were really not happy with a piece of our kit and our cleaning chemicals saying that they are not fit for purpose. So following their points and warnings I had changed their micro schedule for swabbing and sampling as well as a whole list of other requests and they are still unhappy saying we should be doing 150 swabs per week (30 per day) 

 

Now we are a very small unit with 3 bits of kit in our high risk room and put out about 1 tonne of product a week. I know they are the customer and 'the customer is always right' but is he being unreasonable in asking for that may swabs? it would cost over £2500 per week and like I said we are a small and relatively new company.

 

Thanks in advance :)


Edited by Charles.C, 10 October 2014 - 01:44 PM.
post 13-16 appended to avoid confusion


#14 RMAV

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 12:49 PM

"A customer of ours has had a hit of listeria in their High Risk RTE product, they came for an audit and were really not happy with a piece of our kit and our cleaning chemicals"

 

How did they determine your chemicals were not fit for purpose?  How did you determine that they were (or did you?)

 

"but is he being unreasonable in asking for that may swabs?"

 

Was it determined the [I'm assuming] Listeria spp. can trace back to your facility?  If so, perhaps it is a situation where you can find the point of contamination, eliminate it, and validate your presumed revised cleaning and sanitizing procedures with the peripheral benefit of eventual reduction in the environmental sampling rate.  Once the customer is comfortable with your cleaning procedures, they'll likely be understanding of the cost.  Indeed, for most companies £2500 per week is a lot and even moreso for a small one.  But I don't have to tell you this is nothing in comparison to what L.monocytogenes can do if allowed to proliferate (hint for those who don't know: you won't care about money anymore).  Just my two cents on the information given in the original post. 

 

(I see you're from UK, my term, "sanitize" is roughly equivalent to your "disinfect.")



#15 Mike Green

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 12:59 PM

Hi everyone!

 

Need some advice on swabbing. 

 

A customer of ours has had a hit of listeria in their High Risk RTE product, they came for an audit and were really not happy with a piece of our kit and our cleaning chemicals saying that they are not fit for purpose. So following their points and warnings I had changed their micro schedule for swabbing and sampling as well as a whole list of other requests and they are still unhappy saying we should be doing 150 swabs per week (30 per day) 

 

Now we are a very small unit with 3 bits of kit in our high risk room and put out about 1 tonne of product a week. I know they are the customer and 'the customer is always right' but is he being unreasonable in asking for that may swabs? it would cost over £2500 per week and like I said we are a small and relatively new company.

 

Thanks in advance :)

 Sounds like a lot (on the face of it) - IMO much depends on the size of the problem- (what is 'a hit')& how likely it is that your plant is the source!

 

a few questions to clarify

 

Is your product RTE or a component in your customers RTE product?

 

How many swabs are you doing now?(and where?) - are they coming back positive?

 

Is the customer asking you to swab additional areas you don't normally swab or the same ones repeatedly

 

Kind Regards

 

Mike


I may sound like a complete idiot...but actually there are a couple of bits missing

#16 DonnaC

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 01:06 PM

Thanks for the input guys. 

 

all my swabs are coming back clear and i'm not just swabbing one area all the time. 

 

The customer has said that they are taking our product aspectically straight from the bag so they can trace it back to us. Ive done 30 swabs 6 everyday this week and last instead of the 15 odd i usually would have done on one day (thats the way i was told to do it by consultants). 



#17 Charles.C

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 01:52 PM

Dear Donna,

 

I transferred yr new topic (posts 13-16) to yr previous one since i presume the same "problem".

 

I presume the additional posts  detail the issues referrred in the OP, N0.1 ?

 

The usefulness of the extensive swabbing may relate to its location.

 

I hope you are running a control to ensure some confidence in the results.

 

It is also recommended to ensure that yr customer is obtaining valid results. Own lab ?

 

Do you test yr finished product / same codes as are giving X detections of listeria/L.monocytogenes for yr customer ?

 

Rgds / Charles.C

 

PS - If you have gross contamination and you are sampling in the correct locations, 100% negative data as you report suggests either the procedure is faulty or yr lab is questionable.

 

But it all depends on the actual situation.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#18 DonnaC

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 02:15 PM

Thanks Charles 

 

Yes I have implemented new boot washing procedure, new cleaning chemicals, cleaning of areas and equipment which are above 13°C every 4 hours min, new cleaning SOP's, listeria training (what it is, where it is, bio films, prevention, control and getting rid) stressed the importance of wearing all of ppe as some staff werent wearing the plastic aprons and sleeve protectors. I havent heard anything regarding listeria in the customers product since we have introduced the changes. 

 

I was speaking to someone who knows said customer and has been around their factory and they said its a lot to be desired for. But this is a big company with more experience, more man power and a large QA team the complete opposite to what we are. 

 

The customer sends their samples to an outside lab. 

 

It would be great if there was like listeria and bacteria glasses you could stick on and see where it is lol if only eh?



#19 Charles.C

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 02:28 PM

Dear Donna,

 

Having been involved in countless customer arguments over micro. data, the first thing to make sure of is that data at both ends is "reliable".

 

Unfortunately it's difficult to say much without more knowledge of layout, results etc.

 

Offhand, yr sampling densities look ridiculous to me but maybe yr factory has innumerable entrances / drains / stagnant areas.

 

Rgds / Charles.C


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#20 DonnaC

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 02:30 PM

What do you mean Charles ? am i doing to little swabbing?



#21 Charles.C

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 02:43 PM

What do you mean Charles ? am i doing to little swabbing?

 

No, the opposite if routine. You must have an unlimited budget. :smile:

 

The usual approach is to initially saturate-sampling of the suspect locations, make corrections based on the results, then monitor and (hopefully) start to reduce the density.

 

The problem is when all results are negative. Hence controls, although this is not so easy if no own lab. facilities.

I would have done some sampling of the same product sent to the customer (assuming detections are not countable on the fingers of one hand.)

 

Rgds / Charles.C

 

PS - as i understand, there is a cooking step which should knock out listeria, so logically you are then faced with post-cooking contamination presumably ?


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#22 Snookie

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 05:17 PM

I skimmed this topic fairly quickly, so I may missed it, but the emphasis seems to be on environmental swabbing.  If the customer is seeing it, then the emphasis should be on final product testing to confirm what the customer is seeing.  If  the customer is seeing it, then the question is the contamination coming from your plant or their environment.  But I would want to confirm is it truly in the product as this is a serious issue.  If it is in your final product then you need to figure out where the contamination is coming from, but think it needs to be confirmed if it is in the final product at your plant. 


Edited by Snookie, 10 October 2014 - 05:38 PM.

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#23 Mike Green

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Posted 10 October 2014 - 05:25 PM

 

 

A customer of ours has had a hit of listeria in their High Risk RTE product

 

.... just curious.....if the 'hit' (size/extent??) was in their finished product -how they have determined that it was from your plant rather than theirs?-(unless of course there is no further processing or repackaging there?)

 

 Have they tested your product directly as packaged by you, straight from your plant, rather than after they have 'aseptically' unpacked it , (presumably) further processed, repacked etc-( & as Charles asks have you tested it?)

 

Kind Regards

Mike


I may sound like a complete idiot...but actually there are a couple of bits missing

#24 DonnaC

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Posted 11 October 2014 - 08:30 AM

Unlimited budget haha if only :p

The customer is saying they take it straight from the 7kg bag we are sendin them. But they arent sending back the stock or asking for a refund which i find strange?

I genuinly think its been staff carelessness and lack of knowledge with handling and cleaning. They have been without a full time QA for a long time.

We havent heard from the customer regarding listeria in the bacon with the last couple of deliveries so i am thinking no news is good news? And my samples have come back with the all clear both environmental and final product. I am still on constant alert tho!



#25 Charles.C

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Posted 11 October 2014 - 12:40 PM

Dear Donna,

 

Normally this would, and probably should, be one of the first queries to yr OP - 

 

What is your process ?

 

eg, as per my previous post, - does yr process contain a cooking step of, or having equivalent lethality to,  2mins @ a core temp. of 70degC (I assume L.mono is the most heat resistant of the Listeria genus, actually no idea).

 

Obviously if you are receiving cooked bacon, you should be monitoring its micro. quality for Listeria, not to mention the following steps, whatever they are. Perhaps you already are ? (strictly, even if you are cooking, you should still be monitoring the input micro. so as to validate yr cooking process)

 

And are you aware of what yr customer is doing with yr product ? This may explain why allegedly listeria contaminated material is not being returned to you.

 

Rgds / Charles.C


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C





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