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Retention Sampling for Catering Services


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AndrewH

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Posted 28 May 2021 - 06:42 AM

Hi everyone, I'm new to this forum. Currently, I'm working on a project related to the use of retention sampling of prepared meals by catering services to assist in investigations. Have a few questions I was hoping to gain some insight on: 1. What would a recommended sample size be? 2. Which food categories are recommended to be sampled/not sampled? 3. How many samples of each food item should be obtained? Will these be kept as different sets (e.g. one sample for regulator, one for establishment etc.) 4. What type of pathogens should be tested for, in order to minimise the sample size necessary? 5. How long should samples be kept for, ideally? 6. What is the recommended storage temperature? Alternatively, any links to existing regulations/resources that cover such a subject would be greatly appreciated! Thanks :)



Scampi

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Posted 28 May 2021 - 07:11 PM

What are you trying to identify/correct/track by doing this exercise


Please stop referring to me as Sir/sirs


Hobgoblin

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Posted 30 May 2021 - 08:01 PM

This used to be a fairly common practice a number of years ago but much less so these days for a few reasons.

 

Firstly, taking a small sample of a meal will only tell you about that portion and not necessarily the whole batch. It is one of the drawbacks of microbiological sampling and the non-homogenous distribution of pathogens generally.  So if tested and you get a negative result it doesn't mean that the food was free from pathogens.  It won't act as much of a defence either if for example epidemiological data points at your food.

Then if the sample comes back positive, all you have done is give the enforcement body extra evidence against you and it won't help your defence.

 

It is not a legal requirement (certainly within the UK anyway).

 

If your HACCP based system is working effectively, you shouldn't need to rely on food samples.



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AndrewH

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Posted 31 May 2021 - 12:42 AM

What are you trying to identify/correct/track by doing this exercise

The idea would be to trace back consumed catered food in the event of an incident, such as food poisoning



Scampi

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Posted 01 June 2021 - 12:42 PM

You're going to need a big freezer!

 

I supposed you could, but you'd probably also want to keep a sample of every input ingredient as well----massive undertaking, if you did have a hit on finished product, you may not be the origin of the issue

 

You should have enough documentation (including your supplier program) to be able to evaluate if there was an issue to begin with--that should be evaluated piror to product leaving (positive release procedure) rather than relying on retentions


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