A Microbial Assessment Scheme to measure microbial performance of Food Safety Management Systems

L. Jacxsens, J. Kussaga, P.A. Luning, M. van der Spiegel, F. Devlieghere, M. Uyttendaele

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


A Food Safety Management System (FSMS) implemented in a food processing industry is based on Good Hygienic Practices (GHP), Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles and should address both food safety control and assurance activities in order to guarantee food safety. One of the most emerging challenges is to assess the performance of a present FSMS. The objective of this work is to explain the development of a Microbial Assessment Scheme (MAS) as a tool for a systematic analysis of microbial counts in order to assess the current microbial performance of an implemented FSMS. It is assumed that low numbers of microorganisms and small variations in microbial counts indicate an effective FSMS. The MAS is a procedure that defines the identification of critical sampling locations, the selection of microbiological parameters, the assessment of sampling frequency, the selection of sampling method and method of analysis, and finally data processing and interpretation. Based on the MAS assessment, microbial safety level profiles can be derived, indicating which microorganisms and to what extent they contribute to food safety for a specific food processing company. The MAS concept is illustrated with a case study in the pork processing industry, where ready-to-eat meat products are produced (cured, cooked ham and cured, dried bacon).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-125
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • techno-managerial approach
  • critical control points
  • hazard analysis
  • red meat
  • processing plant
  • sampling methods
  • haccp
  • beef
  • contamination
  • hygiene


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