It goes without saying that food manufacturers and processors at all levels need to ensure the protection of the products they make from contamination. In order to do this, regular monitoring needs to be carried out to check for food spoilage microorganisms and food poisoning pathogens.
Christeyns Food Hygiene, a specialist in food and beverage hygiene, has recently entered a sole distribution partnership for a brand new and unique hygiene verification tool – FreshCheck.
Currently food hygiene testing is done using ATP monitoring or the more traditional TVC assessment.
ATP is the universal energy carrier found in all living organisms, the food we eat, our own body and microorganisms. This form of testing often uses a break-bulb swab to provide a fast and direct measurement of cleaning efficiency, hygienic status and risk, primarily by the measurement of product residues. Corrective action can be implemented immediately but the test detects ATP from all sources and cannot differentiate. There are also inefficiencies in picking up low levels of energy, for example in cells that may later recover and grow, after a cleaning and disinfection operation has been completed.
The second option, a TVC assessment, refers to a Total Viable Count, which gives a quantitative estimate of the concentration of microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast or mold spores in a sample. TVC does reveal the presence of all viable bacterial populations but requires laboratory facilities to test the outcomes and thus a time-delay to obtain the results.
Christeyns Food Hygiene are now able to bring to market a new option for surface testing, recently released in the UK and Ireland and already in use with some food manufacturing companies.
FreshCheck, a patented formulation, is a unique hygiene verification test that reveals the presence of viable bacterial populations and organic soiling on food contact and preparation surfaces in a matter of seconds via a colour-change method.
Tested by Campden BRI, FreshCheck has proven to be effective at revealing the presence of low levels of both pathogenic and spoilage bacteria including Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella typhimurium. It takes 30 seconds to provide a qualitative presence (or absence) of contamination, covering a 5x5cm area in one spray.
Peter Littleton, Technical Director at Christeyns Food Hygiene, comments: “This is a very exciting product to work with, the new technology has applications in food service and retail as well as processing and manufacturing. We are also working in partnership to develop other ways in which FreshCheck could be used.”
The product is applied onto a clean, dry surface and the original blue colour of the liquid will change if any contaminants are still on the surface in question. This can be measured against the colour-test guide on the product packaging. The result is immediate and thorough, as proven in testing carried out by Campden BRI. Specifically, testing found that L. Monocytogenes at a very low number oforganisms per 25cm2 showed up quite clearly with FreshCheck as did Salmonella at the same level of contamination.
Ichiban UK, a Suffolk based leading producer of Sushi to the UK retail market, is an early adopter of new technology that benefits the quality and safety of their products and has been using this new product for over two months.
“FreshCheck is a novel, innovative and user-friendly way for hygiene professionals to instantly verify the effectiveness of the cleaning regime as well as being an ideal tool for training hygiene operatives in the areas they need to focus on,” comments Ichiban Site Manager, Jon Day. “It is a very powerful addition to the arsenal of a Hygiene Manager.”
With its ease of use, rapid qualitative identification of bacterial populations and a low cost per test, FreshCheck offers a new alternative in the management and control of bacterial food safety. It is available from sole distributor Christeyns Food Hygiene.