The ability of pathogenic microorganisms to gain entry into food supply systems remains a major public health challenge, and concern. Each year, foodborne illness outbreaks affect millions of people and kill thousands. Additionally, these outbreaks undermine consumer confidence in affected products, and diminish market demand. A substantial amount of these outbreaks results from poor environmental controls and/or hygiene practices. It is critical to maintain and monitor the hygienic environment in the food processing facility for the production of safe food products.
An environmental monitoring program (EMP) collects information about the specific environmental conditions and provides vital information about indicator microorganisms as well as pathogens in a timely manner. Additionally, EMP will evaluate the effectiveness of a plant’s hygienic practices. The EMP is not designed to validate the effectiveness of cleaning and sanitizing methods, but is more focused on validating cleaning and sanitizing frequencies, and other Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) (21 CFR).