We currently have a very rigorous EMP in our facility and unfortunately, it is that time of the year where we need to start looking into reducing cost and finance decided to scrutinise the external lab test costs in QA. So, I am currently reviewing the program and there are a lot of areas where I think routine monitoring is needed so what I want to do is to reduce the no. of micro tests we are doing.
At present we are doing TPC, EB, Y&M for direct product contact [DPC], indirect product contact [IPC] and non-food product contact surface adjacent to the product [NPCA] (we use the AIB convention) and Salmonella & E.coli for non-product contact surface in the processing zone [NPCP].
I read from a EMP implementation slide:
There are a number of indicator tests that can be used for PEM
programs in nut processing operations
– Coliforms/Escherichia coli
– Total Enterobacteriaceae counts (TEB counts) which are
superior to the coliform group as an indicator of sanitation
• Another indicator that is used in the food industry as a quality
indicator is the Aerobic Plate Count (APC)
– APC’s cannot be used as a safety indicator for pathogens
because in almost all cases there is no correlation
From this information, would it be ok for me to reduce testing frequency of TPC for these points or is it essential that TPC/EB as micro indicators is needed for EMP?
Please note, I am not only reducing frequency of testing because of cost but also risk. I have data which indicates no microload on the tested surfaces for the last few months thus supports reduction in testing as well. Furthermore, products we manufacture have a high microload already (seasonings) however, we still want to ensure lowest level of microbial contamination exposure through EMP.
Would appreciate your viewpoint on this - I'm not an industrial microbiologist and would want your opinion on how to go forward with this as well.