I'm not a Packaging person but, based on auditing a few Packaging manufacturers and previous threads in this forum, I wonder if people are excessively worrying about this topic.
The reason for using environmental monitoring (EMP) programs should be based on risk assessment (of contamination X) with respect to the finished product. Compared to many food processing facilities I anticipate that the risk for packaging is likely to be very low due (a) the presence of a high temperature step in most processes, (b) the presumably(?) much lower likelihood of introducing high microbial loads of pathogenic microbial species into the Production Environment.
The only previous EMP related threads for SQF Packaging I could find was -
The thread contains mentions of Enterobacteriaceae, APC procedures respectively. No specific quantitative limits are mentioned.
(Note that a detailed EMP "surface" survey for food processors covering APC values/limits and some other microbes like E.coli(generic) exists in another thread here-
I also found two BRC EMP Packaging threads which only refer APC/Y&M counts -
PS - some reasons for using indicator organisms (which are typically non-pathogenic, eg APC, coliform, generic E.coli) is that attempts to detect the real "nasties" eg zero-tolerant pathogens like Salmonella are frequently ineffective due their low levels, sampling logistic limitations and limited detection capabilities. Indicators are (hopefully) relatively easier/safer to work with and likely to be more easily quantitated.
PPS - The UK limits for Enterobacteriaceae in various surfaces in a food processing environment are illustrated in the excel file in link given above. The numbers inevitably vary with the "status" of the surface sampled (see the link). A general comment is that Enterobacteriaceae and (generic) E.coli should not be detected however the specific detection limit can vary with the methodology used. For example the UK method for a just cleaned surface resulted in an acceptable limit of < 100cfu/cm2. For comparison, the US limit in same link is given as < 10cfu/cm2 but this may well equally mean not detected by the US's procedure.
@Ctzinck - more details are required, eg surface sampled =?, units =?, method=?, but offhand 9100 sounds HIGH.
Edited by Charles.C, 24 March 2018 - 04:46 AM.