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Food Handlers Swabs: How To Choose the Right Swab for Food Safety

Posted on Apr 26, 2016 12:51:06 PM


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die every year from foodborne illness. Some of the culprits are disease-causing microbes or pathogens, such as the norovirus, Listeria, Salmonella, and E. coli. Poisonous chemicals and other substances are also guilty of causing foodborne diseases—of which there are more than 250. 

It is, unfortunately, far too easy for food to become contaminated as it's produced and processed. 

Healthy meat and poultry can become contaminated during slaughter by contact with intestinal contents. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be contaminated if they are washed or irrigated with contaminated water. Normal looking hen eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella even before the shell is formed. Shigella bacteria, hepatitis A, and norovirus can be introduced by the unwashed hands of infected food handlers.

Though the cost to human wellness and life is greatest, foodborne illness also has serious financial 

implications. In 2014 the United States Department of Agriculture estimated these illnesses are annually costing the economy more than $15.6 billion. The number is shocking on its own, but even more so when you consider this public health burden is largely preventable.

Food creation and processing organizations must make sanitation procedures a top priority. As a manufacturer of food safety and environmental surface sampling devices, Puritan can be a resource for food handlers who collect and test food for bacterial pathogens. Let’s look at which food handlers swabs are best for the right application.

Test Meat for Pathogens With EnviroMax Plus®

Regular quality and hygiene control is critical in all meat plants. Where pathogen testing is concerned in this industry, speed is second only to accuracy. Companies want to get their products out the door quickly and they need to be confident the meat does not contain parasites or bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. For rapid and effective safety testing, we recommend a firm foam-tipped swab like those in our EnviroMax Plus® Sterile Environmental Sampling Swabs

The benefits of foam-tipped swabs are their large tip, which increases sample and elution counts, and their rigid paddle-like design which allows for the firm and even application of pressure necessary for adequate sample collection. As for ease of use, simply remove Puritan EnviroMax Plus® swab from the vial, collect the sample, and return the swab to the vial.

For a step-by-step guide on how to test meat with our EnviroMax swabs, read this instructional blog post and check out the following video.

Watch: How to Collect an Environmental Sample from a Meat Carcass



(Click here for step-by-step transcript)

Protect Your Poultry With PurFlock Ultra®

Avian influenza (AI) can absolutely devastate poultry farms. One simple way to check the health of your chickens and turkeys is with blood tests and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. According to the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, testing reduces the risk of spreading AI strains and maintains the safety of the controlled marketing process, while allowing producers to recover value from infected poultry. 

The PCR test is perhaps the least invasive: take hold of a bird, open its mouth, and swab the throat. That's it. So which of the food handlers swabs is the best fit? Puritan’s PurFlock Ultra® swabs with a miniature or ultrafine tip are ideal for taking samples of the trachea or oropharynx and cloaca. 

Routine monitoring of your flock for the presence of other respiratory and infectious diseases is no less important. The PurFlock Ultra® flocked swab makes the random sampling process for such tests easier for the staff, less injurious to the birds, and more efficient for processing.

Keep Bacteria Out of Your Brewery With an ESK®

As more and more small-scale breweries ramp up their production, sanitation procedures must follow suit. During the grain malting process, cereal grains are eventually converted to sugars, which are gradually consumed by yeast as the beer ferments. The high-sugar environment is where bacteria can thrive and multiply, potentially ruining a batch, or worse, contributing to the contamination of an entire facility. Puritan's ESK® environmental sampling kits can provide an appropriate food safety testing solution for microbreweries or home production facilities. 

Companies can validate the food safety procedures at your home or microbrewery by swabbing for bacterial growth in areas through which the beer passes. recommends "swabbing all areas which should be clean and sterile, including: cleaned-in-place fermenter hose ends, exit ports from hard piping, the plate cooler, or the filter." You may also want to swab keg interiors and filling heads. Our EnviroMax® and EnviroMax Plus® swabs can get into hard to reach areas where contaminants may be hidden. And the small polyester tip and quick-turn, leak resistant cap make for a proper environmental transport medium.

So as you can see, different food safety environments call for different testing materials. To learn more about using Puritan as your source for food handlers swabs, contact one of our knowledgeable product specialists today.

 Puritan’s ESK® Sampling Kit

Topics: Flocked Swabs, Environmental

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