May 31, 2021

A new protocol for detecting a chemical on surfaces could help improve hygiene in food-processing plants, according to a study by scientists.

In a paper released in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the researchers from Cornell University and the 3M Company, in Minnesota, say that targeted cleaning based on the results of tests for adenosine triphosphate (ATP) “may improve the environmental hygiene of food-processing facilities”.

The aim is to cut down on contamination by microorganisms, which may cause food to become spoiled and harm consumers.

In their paper, the researchers said that targeted cleaning, directed by ATP testing results, resulted in “a significant decrease” in the proportion of swabs that failed to meet minimum sanitary requirements.

In a statement released by the university, one of the authors of the paper, Randy Worobo, a Professor of Food Science, said it was well known that looking at surfaces was not enough to tell whether they had been properly cleaned.

“All food factory ‘ecosystems’ are prone to niches where microorganisms can hang out or where food residues can persist. We need to find them,” he said in the statement.

The paper is written by Worobo, two of his colleagues at Cornell University, plus four employees of the 3M company.

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