Hygiena launches hand-held device for contaminant detection

Published 29 November 2007

A New Jersey food processor just went belly up as a result of having to launch the second largest recall of contaminated beef in U.S. history; a California company says that if its hand-held contamination monitor were used, the contaminant would have been found earlier, reducing the size of the recall and the subsequent financial hit

Camarillo, California-based microbiology company Hygiena has launched a new palm-sized rapid detection instrument, designed to help manufacturers spot contaminants in no more than fifteen seconds. Food processors are constantly searching for faster and cheaper ways of spotting pathogens, and bringing down detection times can help managers prevent contaminated foods from reaching consumers. The new SystemSure hygiene monitoring system is a small palm-sized instrument with an easy to use, menu driven keypad (it looks like a TV remote control). The box comprises a photodiode sensor, the company said, which when run over either a production surface or a water sample picks up even “extremely low levels of contamination.” Once the results are recorded, the system can then be attached to a PC for further examination of the results.

The device is particularly useful for checking the efficacy of cleaning systems in plants, the company said, as improper or faulty sanitization can lead to a breach in food laws such as hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) controls. The HACCP rules are a systematic preventative approach to food safety aiming to spot physical, chemical, and biological hazards during the manufacturing process. Using a small, handheld device is also less expensive than traditional systems, the company added.

Hygiena is a microbiology and life science company which provides hygiene monitoring systems and dilution devices for food processors, supermarkets, hospitals and laboratories. The company also has a satellite office in the United Kingdom.