Hygiene Monitoring: Sample Collection

Hygiene Monitoring

Microbiological hygiene controls in the foodstuffs sector

Hygienic handling of foodstuffs is the key to producing safe and attractive products. As well as a practicable concept for personal hygiene, product hygiene and equipment hygiene, verification according to a hygiene plan is necessary. Microbiological analyses demonstrate in a simple way that a hygiene concept also functions when it is actually implemented.  For this purpose, the analyses are carried out in an accredited laboratory. 

As a GMP-accredited contract laboratory in Switzerland, we can offer you holistic consultation in the areas of microbiology and hygiene monitoring. We can help you in defining a hygiene concept, taking account of your specialised situation and requirements. 

Would you like to know where the critical points in your production process are? Can we support you in fulfiling any requirements placed on you by the authorities?

Our employees possess many years of experience in the area of foodstuff production and can support you with their experience in the implementation of controls that meet the appropriate demands. 

Would you like us to carry out the sampling? Would you like your samples to be collected on site? Our service employees would be very pleased to visit you and transport your samples directly to the laboratory. The analysis will be carried out immediately, competently and reliably.  


We will be happy to advise you.

Read on here for more information or contact us.

Reasons for hygiene monitoring

Hygiene monitoring Contact plate sample at the control point
Hygiene monitoring Contact plate sample at the control point

The top priority is the safety of the consumers and the employees. Monitoring of hygienic conditions is typically carried out for the surroundings, the staff and for the items that are produced.  Carrying out scheduled monitoring of the concepts for cleaning and for hygienic handling of the foodstuffs means that it can be documented that all processes are being performed appropriately.

Regulation and standards

At the European level, the EU Food Hygiene Directive 93/43/EWG summarises the fundamental hygienic requirements. In Switzerland, the Swiss Food Law, the Ordinance on Foodstuffs and Consumer Products and the Food Hygiene Regulation from the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs are relevant. Investigation of compliance with these regulations is also performed by the Cantonal authorities; an appropriate level of self-controlling will mean that the person responsible in a food company is always on the safe side.

How is microbiological quality control of surfaces carried out?

Contact plates with culture media (agar) are used for the sampling of surfaces. To obtain representative and reproducible results for an inexperienced user, we would recommend the use of a sampling device such as the Count-Tact applicator for Rodac plates. This is the only way to control the contact pressures and contact times exactly.

Contact plate samples: Mechanical aids ensure the reproducibility of sampling
Contact plate samples: Mechanical aids ensure the reproducibility of sampling

Why is bacteria identification important?

Using bacteria identification, it is possible in hygiene monitoring to isolate the source of the contamination. To identify a bacteria, sub-cultures will be formed to obtain microbiological individual colonies that are necessary for clear identification. Categorisation can be performed using bio-chemical methods, an exact identification of the bacteria is then achieved using PCR sequence analysis. By comparing bacteria from a number of different sampling sites, it is possible for example to identify the paths along which the spreading happens or the source of the contamination.

Who should monitor hygiene?

Everyone who is responsible for the production, processing and transportation of foodstuffs and who must guarantee the safety of the consumers and personnel!

  • The foodstuff industry
  • Producing companies (butcher’s, bakers, farmers)
  • Gastronomy
  • Supermarkets

What errors or difficulties could occur?

In practice, the challenge lies in developing a coherent hygiene concept that enables a representative overview over the status of the hygiene quality in operation. Factors such as sampling, contact plates, employee hygiene and time periods must all be considered. The measures to be taken must be integrated with and complement each other.

The packaging, provisioning and transportation of the samples will also have an influence on the test results. If necessary, it must be ensured that the cooling chain has also been correctly implemented and that no additional contamination has arisen. 

What are the arguments for outsourcing?

Careful surveying and experience are the key factors in the evaluation of microbiological quality. When outsourcing to an independent contract laboratory, impartiality and objective evaluation of the results are guaranteed.

Particular advantages for small businesses

  • Simple access to a great wealth of experience
  • Cost controlling: No follow-up costs for equipment, obtaining qualifications or training courses

Particular advantages for large customers:

Sample being collected by a field worker
Sample collection
  • Being free from routine work and the opportunity to focus on core tasks
  • Capacity peaks can be overcome
  • Independent results from an accredited contract laboratory
  • Sample collection service

Customer-specific solutions as a challenge

The routine testing of contact plate investigations for GKZ / enterobacteriaceae is provided by many laboratories. The quality of a laboratory is often only shown however in difficult situations: When specific solutions are needed, then deep and profound technical expertise is required. In general, special germination tests are possible by testing with selective agar. The quality of the consultation can also often only be seen if the limit values are exceeded.

Do you require additional information?

Please read the unabridged version in our technical article (see the right-hand column) or ask for advice from our customer services.

Our services in detail:

Culture media for hygiene monitoring.
Culture media for hygiene monitoring.
  • Consultation on hygiene monitoring
  • On site hygiene monitoring for air (aerial microbial level), surfaces (contact) and water as part of OQ/PQ and the monitoring of cleaning procedures.
  • Controlling employee hygiene 
  • Instructing your employees in the taking of samples
  • Supplying contact plates and contact swabs for on location sampling
  • Testing the effectiveness of disinfectants
  • Evaluation of the monitoring findings
  • Identification of any detected germs
  • Additional services are according to the directory of services or upon requestContact