The CDC estimates that each year in the United States, 48 million people get sick, 12,000 people are hospitalized, and 3,000 people die from food-borne diseases. And recent recalls of flour contaminated with Salmonella and Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) have placed an increase focus on pathogen detection at milling operations as flour is considered a raw food product.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC) requires virtually every food manufacturer, processor, packer and storage facility – including millers – to identify hazards in their foods and processes, and implement controls to minimize these hazards.
Expanded Regulations Increase Representative Sampling Needs
The increased emphasis on process documentation to support HARPC makes it even more critical to control every aspect of the milling process, including the sampling process. This Bacteriological Analytical Manual from the FDA states:
“The adequacy and condition of the sample or specimen received for examination are of primary importance. If samples are improperly collected and mishandled or are not representative of the sampled lot, the laboratory results will be meaningless.”
One of the most efficient and effective ways to ensure your milling operating is adhering to the latest regulations and standards is to employ automatic sampling systems in your facility.
In the past, sampling grain and finished products in the milling process has been largely dependent on manual or direct sampling, such as hand scoop and spigot sampling. These methods rely on an operator directly accessing material and physically taking the sample from the lot. But they’re generally considered inadequate because they can introduce sampling bias, variations due to human error and sample contamination, and they expose the operator to process or environmental hazards. However, having a sampling process that provides a statistically significant sample for pathogen testing increases confidence that contamination issues can be identified correctly and rapidly.
Refine Your Milling Process With Representative Sampling
Whether testing grain or milled products for contaminants or physical properties, tests must begin with a representative sample from the lot.
Representative grain sampling can help you safely, effectively and accurately collect samples, reduce sampling bias, and protect operators from hazards. It also can increase confidence in laboratory data and improve your ability to assess and mitigate risks in the process.
Automatic sampling consists of application-appropriate, automated equipment designed to capture a manageable mass of material from a convenient point in the process on a time or flow rate basis. The equipment can be designed with features that limit segregation and incorrect sampling errors, including human errors.
Automated equipment can take samples in one single actuation or “grab,” or can be programmed to take many smaller “grabs” to build a composite sample. Composite samples can reduce variation due to cyclical process conditions.
In short, representative grain sampling can help ensure your milling operating is adhering to the latest regulations and standards – to ultimately ensure product and consumer safety.
Read Part II in this series to learn what you should consider when implementing an automatic sampling system.
Read John Powalisz’s full article in the latest print issue of the International Association of Operative Millers print publication.