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Food Safety Testing: Which Swabs and Transport Medium Should You Use?

Posted on Jul 21, 2014 9:27:00 AM


As we approach the annual IAFP meeting in August, food safety testing is on all of our minds. Food safety best practices dictate that all food production and service companies should establish and abide by a comprehensive environmental sampling program that includes regular swabbing for pathogens

Both food preparation surfaces and random selections of the food itself should be swabbed for microorganisms in order to validate hygiene procedures and to protect organizations from lawsuits regarding improper food handling.

The best way to ensure the implementation of your environmental sampling program and the participation of your team is to make sure you’ve always got the right products on hand, and that everyone knows the correct sample collection methods. 

Stock the Right Sampling Medium

First, you’ll want to ensure you’ve got the correct environmental transport medium. Our line of ESK® sampling kits are offered in four pre-fill media options letting you choose which one is right for your food safety application. They come with a small polyester tip attached to a quick-turn, leak resistant cap, giving you optimum control.

Neutralizing buffer is the preferred medium for use in microbiological examination of surfaces for food and dairy products. This is mostly because of its ability to neutralize the antibacterial effect of disinfectants like chlorine and ammonium.

 This means that, even after cleaning, bacteria will survive for sampling if present.

The results of tests utilizing neutralizing buffer can indicate whether sanitation procedures are effective. You can also choose a solution of 50% neutralizing buffer and 50% .01% peptone water found in our EnviroMax Plus® swabs, explained below.

Choose Foam Tipped Swabs

Then you’ll want to ensure you’re using the appropriate sampling collection device. For food safety applications, we recommend a large, firm, foam-tipped swab like those found in our EnviroMax® (dry) /EnviroMax Plus® (pre-moistened) sampling swabs. 

The benefits of foam-tipped swabs like these for food safety testing 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.

 Puritan’s EnviroMax®/EnviroMax Plus® Environmental Sampling Swabs are available sterile or non-sterile with both round and pointed foam tips.

Food Safety Testing: How-Tos

As part of an educational series about how to collect environmental samples for various applications, we created the following videos, both of which are applicable to food safety validation.

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

(Click here for step-by-step transcript)


Watch: How to Collect an Environmental Surface Sample From a Stainless Steel Countertop

(Click here for step-by-step transcript)

Click here to view additional product videos. 

If you would like more information about food safety testing or which products to choose, please contact one of our knowledgeable product specialists today.


Topics: Media Transport Systems, Environmental

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