In addition, when environmental monitoring results are gathered both prior to and following cleaning, manufacturers gain a good sense of the overall effectiveness of their hygiene controls and sanitation program. Armed with strong before and after data, they can make the necessary adjustments to improve cleaning strategies, practices, and training.
Carefully designed and implemented sampling programs also bring the benefit of detecting sites potentially harboring pathogens. To that end, LMF manufacturers are advised to perform environmental swabbing and analysis using a hygienic zoning system based on food safety risk. An example would be Zones 1 through 4, with Zone 1 being product contact surfaces, Zone 2 being surfaces immediately over or next to the product, then moving to Zones 3 and 4, with Zone 4 being furthest from the product.
Pathogen Control in LMFs
Every step of the LMF production chain—from sourcing of raw commodities and ingredients, preventing cross-contamination from harvest, to post-process, employing effective dry cleaning and sanitation processes, and implementing and monitoring validated lethal processes—is critical to ensure safer LMFs. Although today’s thermal (heat) processes coupled with continuous monitoring are probably adequate, there is significant room for improvement.