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High Coliforms in Ready-to-Eat foods


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#1 memory

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 10:24 AM

Good day.We manufacture  ready to eat food like beef lasagna,spaghetti bolognese,cottage pie,however I have a problem of high  coliform count this month of September 2015.What might be the causes,Its a first time to have a high consecative count.I am investigating what might be the loop holes.



#2 DavidAR

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 11:56 AM

Any other indicator organisms detected? any pathogens or just coliforms?

 

good starting point is to check cleaning procedures, GMP especialyl that of staff and personal hygiene.

 

Then check raw materials conformance. find the cause to create the solution.



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#3 Turkey

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 01:21 PM

We produce RTE deli products. Typically I will see a rise in the Coliform counts following a big turnover of employees in production I also experienced this when we implemented a rotation of team members (a safety thing) where team members rotated positions throughout the day to decrease the stress on their bodies. We had team members performing jobs that they were not used to doing so they were focused on the job more so than hygiene (sanitizing hands after handling packaging boxes, or touching nfc surfaces, etc.)



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#4 memory

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 02:03 PM

The other parameters ,E.Coli,Salmonella,Staphylococcus,Bacillus ceres,Listeria monocytogenes  are within spec.Only coliforms.



#5 Plastic Ducky

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 02:09 PM

Coliforms are typically introduced by poor hygiene practices, specifically hand washing (60% to 90% of total coliforms are fecal coliforms) 90%+ of fecal coliforms are Escherichia (usually E. coli).

 

 


 



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#6 memory

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 02:14 PM

What surprises me these products are packed by different personnel,ca all of them fail to follow GMP,i wonder,Does not the season affect the coliform count?The temperature of the foods is always within spec.



#7 Charles.C

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Posted 08 October 2015 - 06:26 PM

Good day.We manufacture  ready to eat food like beef lasagna,spaghetti bolognese,cottage pie,however I have a problem of high  coliform count this month of September 2015.What might be the causes,Its a first time to have a high consecative count.I am investigating what might be the loop holes.

 

Hi Memory,

 

With all due respect yr post is sort of  unanswerable without some Numbers.Including both (1) before and (2) after yr query.

(3) And possibly associated Plate Counts.

(4) Together with process locations.

(5) And reference to a Procedure.

 

A frequent loophole is a failure to control temperature and/or time. Bacteria love both.

 

If yr coliform level has reached 6 figures i would certainly agree there is a cause for concern.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#8 memory

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 11:08 AM

Hie Charles.The coliform had  no growth and sometimes  around 30 or below.Now it is more than 1000000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



#9 Charles.C

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 11:24 AM

Hie Charles.The coliform had  no growth and sometimes  around 30 or below.Now it is more than 1000000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Hi memory,

 

Thks reply.

 

And  queries (2-5) ?

 

and How many samples of X > 1M ? Hopefully not One ?

 

Offhand it sounds like a blunder but the proof (either way) may be in the details.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#10 Charles.C

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Posted 09 October 2015 - 01:15 PM

Hi memory,

 

Just noticed yr OP mentioned consecutive counts. I presume this means both gave Coliform = > 1M cfu/gram.

 

I deduce this data is on a finished, packed product which has been cooked.

 

I have never seen a figure of that magnitude for a raw product, never mind a cooked one.

 

Is this an in-house micro lab ?

 

I presume you were testing samples of other cooked products (same line ?)  in parallel which gave normal low coliform levels ?

 

Assuming only 1 sample was taken, the logical procedure would probably be to repeat the measurements on a new sample from same lot code + some other adjacent codes.

 

If it was a one-off result with prior/subsequent lot codes OK and all surrounding products also giving satisfactory results for same test, I would initially suspect a random sampling and/or analytical error or an atypical product unit. Or even a typo ! The usual procedure IMEX would then be to repeat the measurement on same sample or nearest available.

 

But if different successive lot codes gave similarly astronomic data while other parallel products all OK, suggests a product defect more likely.

 

So how were the plate counts ? I would anticipate also very high ?

 

Although not a compulsory relationship, coliform values of the levels you mention are often associated with high E.coli data but, as I understand, the latter data was low as normal?


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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#11 herdy

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Posted 15 October 2015 - 01:14 PM

I agree that it is most likely caused by poor hygiene. It is good that you didn't have high E. coli counts, but that doesn't help that much. It would make sense that people switching around and not comfortable in an area could cause that, I think more than weather. Different times of year do have differences in bacterial counts but since you already had kill steps and the ingredients were in a temperature controlled environment, it shouldn't make that much of a swing.

It could also be the room itself, maybe there is a spot that isn't being cleaned effectively enough? You could do swabs (APC + Coliform) of different areas of your plant, looking for areas that are hard to clean, likely to be missed, or not listed on your cleaning and sanitation schedule. But, I would also swab peoples hands and shoes while they are working. If you don't want to attach names, then don't. When I was working as a microbiologist in a food safety lab, I often saw plants just list out "Tech1 Hands, Tech1 shoes, Tech2 hands, etc". This could give you an idea if it really was their hands, shoes, clothing, or just somewhere they didn't know how to clean right that is causing the problem which could then allow you to better train them so it doesn't happen again.



#12 trubertq

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Posted 15 October 2015 - 03:34 PM

Have you had the cooker checked? Cookers can have cold spots where product doesn't get cooked properly.

 

 

There is always the possibility of an anomalous result and as Charles has pointed out, you would need to have more than one high result to really indicate a problem.

 

I would start at the beginning of the process and sample from there til the end of the process at all points where there may be contamination. Get TVC and Coliforms done and see what that turns out.Make a plan and approach it logically.

 

Use this occurrence as an excuse to re-train all staff in hygiene regulations , you can never reiterate these things often enough, use these results in the training to show what can happen if procedures aren't followed. I don't know if your temperature fluctuates like that but have a look at your raw materials as well just in case.

 

 

Spend as much time in production as you can watching the process... we can all get complacent about things with which we are familiar, go in there as if you have never seen it before and see what you can spot.

 

I have experience of coliform counts going up in seafood i,  the summer-time ( northern hemisphere, it wasn't a problem this year, there was no summer , only varying degrees of March and October) once the sea became warmer. I doubt that is an issue for you with your products.


I'm entitled to my opinion, even a stopped clock is right twice a day

#13 MDG

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Posted 15 October 2015 - 03:44 PM

Check :

1)Time and  temperature combination and D value.

2) Pressure in steriliser

3) Cold zone on steriliser.






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