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Is it necessary to swab packaging film contact surfaces?

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#1 nwells1024


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Posted 23 June 2016 - 03:30 PM

I work for a company which makes plastic film; some for food contact some not.  We have previously done microbial testing on samples of our film and this has typically satisfied customers.  Recently the talk has been to swab film contact surfaces as well.  Does anyone know if this is necessary or is having the finished product tested have us covered?


Thanks in advance.

#2 Charles.C


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Posted 23 June 2016 - 04:12 PM

Hi nwells,


Is any particular Standard involved ?

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Posted 23 June 2016 - 10:51 PM

I supply food companies with our poly bags. We send out random bag samples for swabbing. Even if it is overboard, it justifies that our food contact area is free of bacteria after extrusion. 

#4 CMHeywood


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Posted 28 June 2016 - 08:53 PM

Depending on the complexity of your manufacturing equipment, it may not be possible to check every surface, roller, etc. that the film touches.


Two things in your favor:

1.  You probably are a dry manufacturing environment that does support microbial growth.

2.  Plastic film does not support microbial growth.


As mentioned above, if you do random swabbing to show no hazardous levels of harmful microbes, then you indirectly show no contamination for any surfaces that had been contacted by the film.  A 3rd party lab should be able to advise what frequency would be sufficient. 


They should be able to suggest a reduced testing frequency after you have shown a trend of negative results.


There will be microbes present on all surfaces, including skin and clothing, but it usually is below a hazardous level.  This is probably why Charles C. raised the question about what standard you are referencing.


Although their might be no bacteria after extruding, the bacteria that is in the air will eventually settle on any exposed surface of equipment or product.  This implies that you should be covering your film during storage, and covering machines during any maintenance that may spread contamination onto the equipment.

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#5 Simon


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Posted 29 June 2016 - 07:18 AM

I agree with CMHeywood and to add to the good advice already provided.


If you were getting negative results on end products then that may lead you to do more in depth on food contact surfaces.  As most food packaging manufacturing plants do not have clean filtered air then carrying out settle plates studies for air quality TVC, Yeast and Moulds are quite important.



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