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Environmental Monitoring for a plastics packaging facility

SQF environmental monitoring

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MEM

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Posted 30 August 2021 - 12:34 PM

Hey all, 

We are working on our SQF certification as a Plastic Packaging provider (deli containers and other containers that food processors may use).  Our environmental monitoring currently involves open air plates for testing mold and bacteria in the air,  This has been fine for our Customers and AIB audits for years, but It has been suggested during a gap assessment that we should add swabbing and test for pathogens.  I would like to know what others are doing in this area for packaging facilities.

 

Thanks is advance!



clrmwebb4350

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Posted 30 August 2021 - 12:38 PM

I am interested in other responses. My company produces food contact valves and covers for food. For years we swabbed for salmonella and Listeria. We recently stopped after SQF 9 came out. We did a risk assessment and discontinued the swabbing. Was I correct in doing this? Is it still needed?



olenazh

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Posted 30 August 2021 - 01:27 PM

I'm not in the packaging manufacturing, sorry. Just AFAIK the pathogens do not survive on dry surfaces. Also, from my experience of swabbing our plastic containers (as per management or customer request) the results always came negative.



foodguy63

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Posted 30 August 2021 - 02:49 PM

I am interested in other responses. My company produces food contact valves and covers for food. For years we swabbed for salmonella and Listeria. We recently stopped after SQF 9 came out. We did a risk assessment and discontinued the swabbing. Was I correct in doing this? Is it still needed?

 

Similar to olenazh, I am not in food packaging but the general rule with SQF is use the risk assessment to guide any activities. If your risk is high, mitigate it. If your risk is low, document it. 

 

The gap assessment is likely pointing out a common activity that isn't being performed and no risk assessment performed to support. 



SQFconsultant

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Posted 30 August 2021 - 09:51 PM

It would be an N/A on paths.  I would however go back to the person that made this suggestion and ask them why?


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Charles.C

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Posted 30 August 2021 - 10:39 PM

Hey all, 

We are working on our SQF certification as a Plastic Packaging provider (deli containers and other containers that food processors may use).  Our environmental monitoring currently involves open air plates for testing mold and bacteria in the air,  This has been fine for our Customers and AIB audits for years, but It has been suggested during a gap assessment that we should add swabbing and test for pathogens.  I would like to know what others are doing in this area for packaging facilities.

 

Thanks is advance!

 

Hi MEM,

 

From Guidance SQF Packaging 8.1 (Code's text is quite similar to ver.9) -

 

An environmental monitoring program (EMP) is a program which includes pathogen swabbing to detect risk in the sanitary conditions of the processing environment and is a verification of the effectiveness of the pathogen controls that a management site has in place for high risk products
.
Swabbing must include not only the smooth, accessible parts of the process, but also the areas of the facility where microorganism harbourage sites might exist.

Where a site does not produce products known to allow for growth or survival of pathogenic microorganisms a exemption can be applied for to the certification body. An initial extensive environmental swabbing may be required as part of the exemption requirement

 

.

Various previous threads exist where an (assessed) low risk scenario was used to request exemption. Success appears to have been "mixed".


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


liberator

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Posted 01 September 2021 - 10:51 PM

We have packaging providers who do environmental monitoring and also do some pathogen swabbing. Food packaging does not support the growth of pathogenic bacteria.

 

As noted it all comes down to risk. Plastic films, low to no risk, food containers, slight risk with operators handling product. Assess the situation, gather some data and if nothing comes up, there's your answer. May need to do an annual spot check just to maintain that decision, i.e. review the risk, (things and people change on processing lines over time) 



Charles.C

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Posted 01 September 2021 - 11:28 PM

We have packaging providers who do environmental monitoring and also do some pathogen swabbing. Food packaging does not support the growth of pathogenic bacteria.

 

As noted it all comes down to risk. Plastic films, low to no risk, food containers, slight risk with operators handling product. Assess the situation, gather some data and if nothing comes up, there's your answer. May need to do an annual spot check just to maintain that decision, i.e. review the risk, (things and people change on processing lines over time) 

 

Survival/Equipment/Environment could also be relevant. An Annual Frequency of 1 sounds optimistic.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C






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