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Simple Rapid Bacteria Test Saves Time and Money

Published 17 March 2017 | By Hygiena International

Environmental testing plays an important role in monitoring preventative measures to ensure quality and safety in manufacturing because finished product testing is of limited value. Time to result is important for controlling and minimising risk and using on-site simple rapid test methods saves time and money.

A case study showed that the implementation of MicroSnap streamlined the process and made microbial testing easier, more flexible and more efficient by reducing the time to result by >80 hours while cost per test has been reduced by around 40%.

Manufacturers of food and personal care products routinely test themselves or send samples to an external contract testing laboratory to measure the hygienic status of the production equipment using the traditional culture method for bacteria. The turnaround time for results is 4 days and generates significant on-cost. Many companies require an alternative test system that could be used on-site to provide a rapid result facilitating timely response in support of the manufacturing requirements and to reduce costs.

Cleaning is defined as the removal of product residues to a safe level using appropriate detergent chemicals, so that the ideal test of cleaning efficiency is a direct objective test for residue. This can be achieved using ATP hygiene monitoring, a well-established method that gives results in 15 seconds. Cleaning also removes microbes and detergent/sanitisers inactivate residual microbial contamination. However, a simple surface hygiene ATP test cannot differentiate between residual bacteria and product residues. Microbial contamination is also expected to be very low after cleaning/sanitising such that a specific test for bacteria is often required to verify the microbial status.

MicroSnap is a rapid specific test that detects and enumerates bacteria giving results in the same shift of 7 hours using ATP bioluminescence in a novel formulation. An on-site factory trial was conducted to monitor cleanliness using the Hygiena EnSURE system, which was used for both the direct measurement of product residues (ATP using UltraSnap) and the measurement of bacteria using MicroSnap Total (AOAC certified). Results were compared to those from equivalent samples and tested by traditional plate count methods by a contract laboratory.

Surface swab samples were collected and tested using both MicroSnap Total and UltraSnap after cleaning from 9 different sample locations of manufacturing equipment taken over several days when >10 different product types were being manufactured. A range of contamination levels were detected but most samples were low showing a high standard of cleaning. One sample location showed the presence of high levels of contamination by both methods and required further investigation.

The UltraSnap ATP test results show a strong agreement to the bacterial results however this is not the intention and the two methods measure different things and provide valuable complementary information. Inadequate cleaning occurs when significant amounts of organic material are still present even though bacteria may not be detected. The residue still represents a potential hazard for recolonisation and the formation of biofilm which can be very hard to remove. The results give definitive indicators for the hygiene team to take action and improve cleaning practices in those locations.

UltraSnap provides an instant objective measurement of product residue to verify the efficacy of cleaning processes and identified potential areas of improvement that would not be identified by a microbiology test alone. If the ATP test is negative, it is more than likely that no bacteria are present.


MicroSnap gave more meaningful results than the traditional microbiology test results because it measured lower levels of contamination in the range 1 -10 CFU/swab and the time to result was much shorter. The contract testing lab reported all results as <10 CFU/ml from part of the swab extract and could not detect any difference between samples. MicroSnap measures 100% sample collected on the swab and could detect and distinguish between different samples that the traditional method could not.

Using the EnSURE system with both MicroSnap and UltraSnap measures two key components of hygiene in the shortest time to give greater quality assurance, and improved process control. MicroSnap makes on-site bacteria testing easy, saving time and money.

For more information - contactus@hygiena.com