Many microbes are harmless to humans, but some can cause serious health problems. Microbes can spoil food, introduce toxins, cause disease and lead to many other problems. Microbiological testing can quickly identify these contaminants and treat them before they do damage.

Sampling plans have significant limitations such as the relative rigor of the sampling program. The best sampling plans provide the opportunity but no guarantee of detection. Frequent sampling and sampling multiple sites and time points prove the best opportunity for detection. The best sampling plans allow for uniform manufacturing conditions, equal probability of contamination throughout the lot, and equal probability of sampling throughout the lot.

Some common sampling problems include small sample sizes or sampling methods that may not be ideal for detection, sanitizer or residual antimicrobial chemicals that interfere with testing, and temperature durations that may kill pathogens[1]. Solutions can include proper batching and scheduling, proper storage of the samples, and proper aseptic technique when sampling.

The three types of microbiological criteria include standard, guideline, and specification. A standard is one that is part of a law, ordinance, or administrative regulation. A guideline is usually used in the food industry or regulatory agencies to monitor manufacturing processes. A specification is used as a purchase requirement. This can either be mandatory or advisory.

Microbiological sampling keeps products safe for consumers. If your company needs assistance with a microbiological sampling plan, EMMA International can assist. Contact us by phone at 248-987-4497 or by email at info@emmainternational.com.


[1] Guidelines for Assessing the Microbiological Safety of Ready-To-Eat Foods Placed on the Market (November, 2009) Retrieved on 21 March, 2022 from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/363146/Guidelines_for_assessing_the_microbiological_safety_of_ready-to-eat_foods_on_the_market.pdf

Bano Ahmed

Bano Ahmed

Bano is a Quality Engineer at EMMA International. She has experience in quality control, pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing, and implementing corrective and preventative actions within the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Bano has earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Pennsylvania State University and a MPH in Population Health Sciences from the University of Michigan.

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