3M Food Safety and Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) announce they have collaborated – together and with a team of other industry experts – on a comprehensive handbook to help food and beverage manufacturers build and implement environmental monitoring programs.

The “Environmental Monitoring Handbook for the Food and Beverage Industries” is available for free download as a complete 100+ page document, providing a holistic perspective on this preventative approach to food safety. In addition to immediately accessing this expert guidance from 20 contributors from around the world, food safety and quality professionals can also watch a related on-demand video learning series at www.3M.com/EnvironmentalMonitoringProgram.

While environmental monitoring guidance exists for certain sectors of the food and beverage industry, a comprehensive resource has not previously been created. The concept of environmental monitoring was born out of increasing realization among food processors and their regulators that food manufacturing environments are too often sources of finished product contamination. In 2015, the U.S. FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) began requiring environmental monitoring as a key food safety verification strategy, and globally recognized third-party food safety certification programs soon followed suit.

“We developed this handbook to instill a more strategic and integrated mindset for preventing multiple forms of environmental contamination in processing facilities,” said John David, 3M Food Safety global scientific marketing manager and the co-editor for the handbook. “Environmental monitoring programs can encompass a range of targets – not only pathogens, but spoilage organisms, allergens and more.”

“There are logical approaches to identifying, controlling and documenting contamination in food production environments, but there are also lots of unique factors, including the composition of the foods being manufactured, the control measures being applied and the layout of and machinery in the plant,” added Dr. Martin Wiedmann, the Gellert Family Professor of Food Safety at CALS. “The handbook aims to help organizations create more of a science around their environmental monitoring efforts, and that means being mindful of the variables pertaining to them.”

Handbook availability is just one outcome of a long-term partnership
Last month, 3M and CALS renewed a five-year strategic partnership that has resulted in a peer-reviewed journal publication, food safety education seminars and workshops worldwide, and more. The renewal of the public-private collaboration resulted in the naming of the 3M Food Safety and Quality Laboratory, managed by Dr. Randy Worobo, a professor within Cornell University’s Department of Food Science who co-authored the handbook’s chapter on spoilage organisms.

“Environmental monitoring relies on anticipation and proactivity and there can be a lot data to assess – not just around food safety issues, but also concerns involving shelf life,” said Worobo. “Our hope is that the Environmental Monitoring Handbook will fuel transformational thinking and practices, allowing companies to not only avoid recalls but improve the quality and longevity of their products and the efficiency of their production.”