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Acceptable limits for hands swabbing and other surfaces

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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?




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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,



Abd El-Rahman

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 09:05 AM

Hello everyone, this is my first post here, thank you very much in advance :)


I would be grateful if you could help me to interpret some data.

I'll write in bullet points and numbered lists to be more clear.


Food production facility, dry pet foods (mainly oven dried beef, chicken, and potatoes treats).

CCP1: water activity less than 0.55 to 0.60 (depends by the products), so very dry products.


The main difficulty for me to interpret the results from the external lab is that when they delivered the swab kit it wasn't the classic 25 or 100 cm2 frame with cotton swabs.

We had a sterile impregnated sponge to pass over the hands, or the surfaces, or to shoot with compressed air (to test the air).


So, in the results, I don't have an actual CFU/cm2 but CFU/swab. ????


1) Hands swabs

Swabbed the sponge on supposedly clean gloves DURING production:

• Finished products, while packaging

• While checking the CCP1 on finished products




Gloves while packaging:


Employee 1:

Aerobic Colony Count 1200 CFU/swab

Coliform (Petrifilm) <10 CFU/swab

E. coli (Petrifilm) <10 CFU/swab


Employee 2 (same order as above):

790 CFU/swab

<10 CFU/swab

<10 CFU/swab



Gloves while measuring the CCP1:


Aerobic Colony Count 1600 CFU/swab

Coliform (Petrifilm) 160 CFU/swab

E. coli (Petrifilm) <10 CFU/swab



Compressed air:

Several samples from different rooms.

They are all very similar, in this range:


Aerobic Colony Count <10 CFU/swab (only 1 sample had 25 CFU/swab... how about this one too?)

Coliform (Petrifilm) <10 CFU/swab

E. coli (Petrifilm) <10 CFU/swab



Tap water (in this case it's easier, it's per mL):

Aerobic Colony Count HGMF 60 CFU/mL

Coliform HGMF <1 CFU/mL

E. coli HGMF <1 CFU/mL



What do you think about these results?


Thank you very much, I really appreciate your help, especially for the mistery of the hands without actual measured area.




referrance please.

Abd El-Rahman

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Posted 29 January 2019 - 09:11 AM

I think FDA but what number i dont know

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