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Microbiological Performance of a Food Safety Management System in a Food Service Operation

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The microbiological performance of a food safety management system in a food service operation was measured using a microbiological assessment scheme as a vertical sampling plan throughout the production process, from raw materials to final product. The assessment scheme can give insight into the microbiological contamination and the variability of a production process and pinpoint bottlenecks in the food safety management system. Three production processes were evaluated: a high-risk sandwich production process (involving raw meat preparation), a medium-risk hot meal production process (starting from undercooked raw materials), and a low-risk hot meal production process (reheating in a bag). Microbial quality parameters, hygiene indicators, and relevant pathogens (Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Bacillus cereus, and Escherichia coli O157) were in accordance with legal criteria and/or microbiological guidelines, suggesting that the food safety management system was effective. High levels of total aerobic bacteria (>3.9 log CFU/50 cm2) were noted occasionally on gloves of food handlers and on food contact surfaces, especially in high contamination areas (e.g., during handling of raw material, preparation room). Core control activities such as hand hygiene of personnel and cleaning and disinfection (especially in highly contaminated areas) were considered points of attention. The present sampling plan was used to produce an overall microbiological profile (snapshot) to validate the food safety management system in place.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Food Safety and Food Quality, Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation, University of Ghent, Coupure Links, 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium., Email: 2: Department of Food Safety and Food Quality, Laboratory of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation, University of Ghent, Coupure Links, 653, 9000 Ghent, Belgium

Publication date: April 1, 2012

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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