Management of microbiological food safety is largely based on good design of processes, products and procedures. Finished product testing may be considered as a control measure at the end of the production process. However, testing gives only very limited information on the safety status of a food.
If a hazardous organism is found it means something, but absence in a limited number of samples is no guarantee of safety of a whole production batch. Finished product testing is often too little and too late. Therefore most attention should be focussed on management and control of the hazards in a more pro-active way by implementing an effective food safety management system.
For verification activities in a food safety management system, finished product testing may however be useful. For three cases studies; canned food, chocolate and cooked ham, the relevance of testing both of finished products and the production environment is discussed. Since the level of control of different processes can be largely different it is beneficial if the frequency of sampling of finished products and production environments would be related to the associated human health risk, which can be assessed on the basis of risk assessment and epidemiological data.
H. Zwieteringa, Liesbeth Jacxsensb, Jeanne-Marie Membréc, d, Maarten Nautae, Mats Peterzf Revelance of microbial finished product testing in food safety management ,Food Control Volume 60, February 2016, Pages 31–43