Environmental sampling is a qualitative technique used by the FDA to gain additional information on possible routes of product contamination and is often a preventative measure critical to stopping contamination and reducing foodborne outbreaks.
The presence of pathogenic microorganisms in the environment of a food facility can indicate poor sanitation or microbial niches. Once established in a food processing plant, microorganisms can contaminate food contact surfaces through transfer from humans, equipment or aerosols. It is important that food facilities that are vulnerable to microbiological contamination maintain a food processing environment that is not colonized by pathogenic microorganisms. Niche environments may be difficult to inspect or access and therefore can protect microorganisms during routine cleaning and sanitizing. Environmental sampling is a preventive food safety concept that contributes to awareness and thus protects public health. To learn more, check out CFSAN’s FDA-TRACK Dashboard and view the center’s environmental sampling measures.