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Rapid tests support FSA initiatives

Published 14th June, 2012 by Neil Nixon

Rapid tests support FSA initiatives

Hygiena International is supporting the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and local authorities by supplying simple, rapid test systems that provide instant information about surface cleanliness and its associated risks. The tests assist food law enforcement officers in inspections by identifying hotspots and inadequate hygiene practices. Corrective actions and advice on good manufacturing practices can be provided on-the-spot together with real time objective measurements. The immediacy of the test results has a powerful impact on food processors and food handlers.

Helen Cameron, senior environmental health practitioner (food safety), at Worcestershire Regulatory Services, said: “If a place looks clean it might not be. ATP Swabs are an excellent tool for verifying cleaning standards. Swabs taken at more than one high risk business, which looked very clean and appeared to be heading for a good Food Hygiene Rating Scheme rating, subsequently proved to have high ATP readings. Further investigations brought to light that employees weren’t following established cleaning regimes, reusing cloths, etc. Without the SystemSURE it is unlikely this issue would have been identified. A 2-year project in Worcester confirmed the agreement between a range of formal lab swabs and the ATP results. It has brought poor hygiene and cleaning practices to the attention of food business operators (FBOs) and head chefs, and also demonstrates to all staff that the effort they put into cleaning is not wasted.”

Statistics indicate that every year food poisoning costs the UK >£500 million, 19 million sick days, 20,000 hospital admissions and 500 deaths. However the application of Hygiena technology enables the FSA and food inspectors in their mission to ensure that high standards of food safety are maintained by the coaching and encouraging of FBOs to adopt best practice. Hygiena’s technology is called ATP bioluminescence and it measures two of the four areas that FBOs should focus upon as part of their management of food safety, within the FSA coaching plan. The SystemSURE Plus is a small portable instrument which uses an all-in-one reagent swab device to test surface hygiene as well as monitoring water quality in static and mobile catering facilities.

Other new tests that can be used on the SystemSURE Plus include CrossCheck that specifically measures raw meat residues and cross contamination as well as verifying cooking. Other simple disposable colour hygiene tests such as ProClean and SpotCheck Plus are available that can be used directly by butchers and small caterers to monitor cleaning practices and demonstrate due diligence.

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