Lesson from the Billion Pound Food Industry

The return of the BBC’s excellent consumer show The Food Inspectors serves as a timely reminder of the importance of food hygiene on board ocean-going vessels and offshore installations. The safety of the crew members, visitors, contractors and passengers is always going to be linked to the cleanliness of the kitchen or galley and to the efficiency of the hygiene testing procedures.

An outbreak of food poisoning in an enclosed marine community can be devastating, so every possible method of preventing such an occurrence needs to be taken. There are many ways to encourage an outbreak, including poor hygiene, sub-standard food storage systems and not cooking or defrosting items sufficiently. In the insular world of a vessel or offshore installation, a potential disaster might never be far away.

Bouts of diarrhoea, vomiting and painful stomach cramps can be caused by any number of diseases, including campylobacter, salmonella, E. coli 0157 and listeria.  While the BBC’s Matt Allwight et al will generally be highlighting the dangers of many establishments, it’s important to remember the very unique needs of a maritime setting. A serious outbreak can, to put it simply, become a disaster in no time at all.

Regular testing is vital

Needless to say, the best way of avoiding food hygiene issues is to use the right food items in the right manner at all times. The second best way, and it’s one that all operators and owners need to be aware of, is to introduce and maintain effective, rigorous testing methods. And that’s why the use of protein swabs is a must on board all ships and all offshore installations.

In most cases, the simpler testing methods are the ones which are used more often and more effectively. Basic protein swabs can be stored efficiently at room temperature so a plentiful supply can be kept on board. They can be utilised quickly and will give accurate results in just two minutes. By incorporating robust testing routines, you can prevent problems at source with ease.

As well as protein swabs, you can use specific bacteria swabs in a bid to identify potential problems with accuracy. These include items for identifying E-coli/coliform, salmonella and staphylococcus aureus. Results are available in 12-24 hours, and the swabs have a highly convenient 18-month shelf life. The ATP testing system is another alternative, offering quantitative results and access to reporting software. Peace of mind is pleasingly simple to achieve thanks to accurate, reliable testing methods from Marine Testing Solutions.