Environmental Monitoring Trending and Reporting 101

Many companies new to environmental monitoring may wonder “How should I report my results?” If you plan on selling to a major food retailer like Trader Joe’s, you don’t really have a choice. They will let you know, specifically, what information to collect and report. In this short article, I discuss the TJ requirements (as of May 2018) as an example of what to expect when selling to large retail accounts and to provide a model for your own Environmental Monitoring Program (EMP) trending and reporting.

Want to learn how to design your own spreadsheet reporting system? Visit the Food Safety Guides Blog at www.foodsafetyguides.com or contact us directly at info@foodsafetyguides.com.

REPORT A: Monthly Overall % Rolling Incidence Rate

For this report, Trader Joe’s wants you to summarize positive swab results by surface type, i.e. by Zone. Zones are divided into two categories: Food Contact Surfaces (FCS) and Non-Food Contact Surfaces (non-FCS). Non-FCS are broken into 3 sub-categories, each determined by proximity to Zone 1:

 Zone 1 = Food Contact Surfaces (i.e. surfaces that directly contact food, like a knife or cutting board)

Zone 2 = Adjacent non-food contact surface (i.e. surfaces that do not directly contact foods but are immediately adjacent to or near enough to Zone 1 surfaces to represent a higher degree of risk than Zone 3 surfaces)

Zone 3 = Non-Food Contact Surfaces (e.g. floors, drains, table legs)

Zone 4 = Non-Manufacturing Non-Food Contact Surfaces (i.e. Surfaces located in areas outside of where food is received, processed or stored, like corridors, ante-rooms, door knobs to the processing area, etc.)

Positive results are reported as a percent of the total swabs for each zone. For example, if 2 positives are reported in Zone 1 out of 100 swabs, the % Incident Rate for Zone 1 is 2%. Report A (and the % incidence rate) is “rolling” and “monthly” because the scope of the report is data collected over the last four weeks. 

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REPORT B: Percent (%) Incidence by Individual Sampling Site

Report B requires reporting all of the results (positive and negative, including a % incidence rate) collected for each individual surface sampled over the last 12 weeks.

Individual sampling sites are assigned a specific code according to the following convention: a capital “Z” followed by a number 1-4, indicating the zone of the surface (e.g. Z1 = Zone 1 surface, Z2 = Zone 2 surface, etc.), then a period and a number indicating that particular surface.

Example:

Z1.1 = Spoon

Z1.2 = Knife

Z1.3 = Cutting Board

A code assigned to a specific surface is permanent and cannot be re-used, even if that surface no longer exists. For example, if a Spoon is no longer used in the facility, then Z1.1 is retired with it and cannot be re-assigned to another surface. 

Individual sampling sites must be identified on a facility map. Sites that are not fixed in a single spot (e.g. mobile equipment) can be identified wherever you want on the site map as long as the surface is clearly communicated.

REPORT C: Overall % Rolling Incidence Rate by Zone & Overall Facility

This report is identical to Report A except the rolling date range is the last 12 months. 

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REPORT D: Percent (%) Incidence by Individual Sampling Site

This report is identical to Report B except the rolling date range is the last 12 months. 

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REPORT E: Map of the facility with historical positive and negative findings located for each swab site

This is of the tougher reports as it requires you to have a facility map that is continuously updated to reflect historical positive and negative findings for each individual swab site. By “historical”, the period could be the last 12 months or longer. Fortunately, Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel integrate with a diagramming software, called Lucidchart, and makes it relatively easy to create a map that automatically updates in real time with log data, provided the data is logged in a friendly format. Lucidchart costs less than $10/months per user, way cheaper than buying a software! To learn how to integrate Lucidchart with a spreadsheet system, please contact us at info@foodsafetyguides.com and we’ll show you how!

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Want to learn how to design your own spreadsheet reporting system? Visit the Food Safety Guides Blog at www.foodsafetyguides.com or contact us directly at info@foodsafetyguides.com.