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Episode 6: Environmental Swabbing in Meat and Poultry Facilities (FSIS)

Episode 6: Environmental Swabbing in Meat and Poultry Facilities (FSIS)

Environmental Monitoring Programs

In this video series we have focused on how to build an effective environmental monitoring program for food and food packaging facilities. Regulatory oversight in these programs often occur during infrequent visits that are conducted annually, or even less frequently. One major exception are facilities under FSIS jurisdiction, in which regular oversight occurs, often every day.

In an FSIS regulated facility, and specifically those that process ready-to-eat products such as pork rinds, beef jerky, chicken salad or cold cuts, the facility is required to control listeria monocytogenes in accordance with FSIS Guideline on Controlling Listeria monocytogenes in Post-lethality Exposed Ready-to-Eat Meat and Poultry Products.

In this listeria control guideline, there are three main options for demonstrating control of listeria, with the most common option requiring valid cleaning and sanitation along with testing of product and swabbing of food contact surfaces for listeria.

The facility’s FSIS inspector will often provide some level of indication where they would expect to see swabbing, and the FSIS guidelines pre-approval of the facility will include a review of the HACCP Plan, SSOPs and the listeria control for ready-to-eat products at the facility, and at that point FSIS regulators will approve or disapprove of the approach the facility intends to pursue.

All of the basic concepts we discussed in our earlier episodes in this series remain true for determining an approach in an FSIS facility, and the FSIS inspector or science officer can be considered to be a good resource once the quality and safety team has established their desired approach to swabbing in production areas.

In this episode you will learn how to handle dual jurisdiction concerns that arise in regards to Environmental Monitoring Programs. Next, we will look more carefully at what to do when pathogens and quality organisms are discovered in a facility.

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