When investigating microbial contamination in an industrial setting, it is important to have an idea of the possible contaminants and sources of contamination and the stages in processing where contamination of the product or raw material is more likely to occur.
The occurrence and significance of microbial contamination in an ecological niche are determined by a number of factors as well as properties of the species concerned and the product. The factors include:
1. The primary contamination
Contamination may be:
- Intrinsic- i.e., of raw materials
- Extrinsic- i.e., during or after processing
- General- i.e., from air, soil and water
- Carriers- i.e., human/animals
2. Environmental factors and properties of the raw material/product
Another thing to consider is the environmental factors. The environmental factors may include pH and water activity of the product or raw material, available nutrients, and the ambient temperature. These factors determine what micro-organism(s) would be the dominant contaminant(s) and the level of spoilage of the product or raw material.
Investigating the problem
The first thing is to tour the plant and analyse in detail the stages of processing or production and using microbiological knowledge identify the stage(s) in the entire production process where possible contamination is likely to occur. The contamination of raw materials or the product may originate from contaminated air or equipment. Therefore, microbiological analysis of the product/raw material, the air and any equipment at the processing stage where contamination is suspected to occur should form the initial part of investigation.
We can help troubleshoot microbiological contamination problems in industrial, public buildings and hospital environments. For help with mould and bacteria testing and identification call us at (905)290-9101.