Microbiological criteria are risk management metrics which are used to indicate the acceptability of a food, or the performance of either a process or a food safety control system following the outcome of sampling and testing for microorganisms at a specified point of the food chaion. The components of a microbiological criterion include the microbiological limit that is to be implemented, the testing method to be employed, the sampling plan (i.e., size and number of samples to be examined), and the actions to be taken when the microbiological limit is exceeded.
A microbiological criterion can be used either as a tool for verifying that other control measures have been applied effectively or as a means of directly identifying unacceptable lots: i.e. those not complying with an established limit. Actions that are specified when the sampling plan indicates that the microbiological criterion is not being met may include, for example, preventing the release of the product into domestic or international trade.
This tool focuses on the elimination of lots deemed unacceptable in accordance with the specified sampling plan, and estimates the risk reduction that is obtained as a result of this removal of unacceptable product from the exposure pathway.
The tool presented here is designed to explore the impact of two- and three-class sampling plans (including both presence/absence and concentration-based) in terms of the likelihood to detect and therefore reject product not meeting the microbiological criterion, and the resulting risk reduction that may be achieved when pathogens are considered.
If you are unfamiliar with the use of the tool please go to Impact of Sampling Plans for step-by-step guidance.
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