In any food processing plant, food safety is of utmost importance. The key to safety, in turn, is testing. Many resources exist for testing your food safety levels. You can also consider a plant food safety audit to help you identify and manage any HACCP issues.
This document explains the Food and Drug Administration’s preferred laboratory procedures for detecting pathogens (bacterial, viral, parasitic, plus yeast and mold) in food and cosmetics. It includes four general guidelines/procedures:
The USDA’s National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) provides impartial, scientific advice to federal food safety agencies. This link includes transcripts of meetings, final reports and recommendations listed by year, a list of current sub-committees, and contact information should you have questions or comments.
This document provides assistance in interpreting microbiological analysis of food when no other microbiological criteria exist. It identifies four categories of quality for ready-to-eat food and includes follow-up actions for each.
This guide from the New Zealand Food Safety Authority contains both background information on factors that influence shelf life as well direct, indirect, and challenge testing methods for calculating it.
This guide lists formulas for determining microbiological limits of aerobic colony count, E. coli, and nine specific pathogens of ready-to-eat foods . The annex contains a category table for aerobic colony count assessment and guidance notes on a sampling plan for microbiological analysis.
A preventive approach to food safety offers more control and is more effective than microbiological examination. These principles give guidance on establishing and applying microbiological criteria for foods at any point in the food chain from primary production to final consumption.
The ICMSF is a leading source for independent and impartial scientific concepts that help reduce the incidence of foodborne microbiological illness. Their publications include useful books, articles, papers, and presentations.
This collection of ICMSF proposals details sampling methods and plans for a variety of food types. Each chapter includes a discussion of the microbiological hazards of that particular group.
This guide helps food processors determine the shelf life of their food and apply an appropriate tracking methodology. It also includes information on changes that may occur during food processing and storage and resource material about various pathogens.
Manufacturers and processors of raw and ready-to-eat food need to be especially cautious about controlling cross-contamination. This guide provides steps to control cross-contamination of E. coli and other food-borne bacteria. It includes legal guidance, recommendations for compliance, and best practices within the industry.
This joint effort by the Department of Food Safety, Zoonoses, and the World Health Organization includes a list of food-borne parasites as well as global rankings, trade scores, and socio-economic impacts of the ranked parasites.
This guide is based on best practice recommendations from FSIS for plants producing post-lethality exposed ready-to-eat meat and poultry products. These recommendations may help you meet the requirements of 9 CFR part 430, the Listeria Rule. Also this guide provides information on sanitation, testing, and prevention of cross-contamination.
This supplementary guide was issued to prevent food recalls based on the presence of L. monocytogenes. It provides resources, validation, and sanitation practices, as well as recommendations for sanitation controls.
This guide provides an example of how to design a pathogen method validation study that may be used by organizations such as test kit manufacturers, laboratories, and independent validation organizations.
This guide identifies the most significant food safety problems, foods at high risk for these problems, and other major areas of concern. GMPs serve as the basis for FDA inspections.
These resources are a great start for understanding the food testing requirements and risks associated with your operations. For professional guidance on setting up and managing effective food safety processes, try getting a Food Plant Safety Audit.