McCain Foods

Enhanced Hygiene Monitoring thanks to Klipspringer's A3 System


Changes and challenges 

After working in the food industry for nearly 40 years, Nigel Church, Hygiene Manager at McCain’s Scarborough site, noticed a significant rise in hygiene standards over the past decade. In response to these pressures and with a focus on brand protection and customer satisfaction, the Scarborough team decided to push frozen food into the realms of high risk production.  

Confusing results 

McCain’s Scarborough site almost exclusively produces frozen fries. However, another of its UK factories produces fresh chips that customers are required to oven cook at home. An interim technical person working at this facility identified a series of confusing results. Traditional swab tests indicated that potato didn’t contain any ATP (Adenosine Triphosphates). These traditional tests were also passing surfaces that would have failed a visual check.  

Allergen Verification

At the Scarborough factory, Nigel and his team were undertaking a major allergen validation exercise. McCain foods is increasingly moving towards a series of gluten-free products and this development resulted in the revalidation of the factory’s entire cleaning regime. Before this transition, the validation process included instant swabbing, instant allergen swabbing, and ELISA testing. Such extensive testing resulted in high costs and longer factory downtime.  

With 52 production facilities across six continents and five factories in the UK, McCain Foods is the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products. Due to this success, around 180 million pounds worth of investment has gone to its Scarborough location in the past couple of years and this site now exists as the company’s flagship factory. Nigel Church is the Hygiene Manager at this site and also works as McCain’s Cleaning and Sanitation Lead. 

Why wasn't an ATP meter working for McCain Foods?

The most common method associated with hygiene monitoring, an ATP meter checks for the presence of organic material and microorganisms. As the name suggests, an ATP meter only checks for one molecule: ATP. This is an unstable molecule that decomposes during processes such as cooking and fermentation. At both the Scarborough factory and the factory that handles fresh chips, potatoes are blanched as part of the production process. This results in the significant destruction of ATP. The Scarborough chips are also fried, so the ATP levels are challenged to an even further extent. A material or surface may pass an ATP swab test even if the organic residue is still present in the form of ADP (Adenosine Diphosphate) and AMP (Adenosine Monophosphate).  

What is the difference between an ATP and A3 meter?

Unlike a traditional ATP meter, the A3 system from Klipspringer uses unique, patented technology to detect adenosine molecules in all three forms: ATP, ADP and AMP. This video shows the difference in sensitivity between a standard ATP meter and Klipspringer’s A3 model. It provides a practical demonstration of how results from the same surface can differ drastically depending on the unit that is used to evaluate it. 

What was the outcome?

Reliable results 

The introduction of an A3 system helped to explain the confusing results previously produced by the ATP tests. Instead of the system passing a blanched potato or a surface that was visibly unclean, it was able to detect the presence of ADP and AMP. This enabled the factories to suitably update their cleaning regime. This was especially important for McCain Foods, as a french fry factory isn’t cleaned every night, but rather every 21 days. This means that the factory must be clean enough to last a significant length of time.  

For McCain Foods, the key benefits of an A3 system also included: 

  • Increased swabbing reliability in a wide range of testing conditions 
  • Reduced allergen swabbing requirements, and hence reduced overall costs 
  • No chance of achieving false-positive readings 
  • Ease-of-use when swabbing (small unit, fast set-up, quick results) 

Allergen Verification 

Although an A3 system does not test for allergens and should never be relied upon for this process, Nigel and his team were able to reduce the number of allergen tests carried out. Over a six-to-eight-month period, it became clear that if a surface passed an A3 test it would go on to pass a gluten swab and then an ELISA test. During this period, McCain Foods didn’t have a single allergen fail following an A3 swab pass. This gave both factories the confidence to reduce the amount of allergen swabbing and ELISA testing carried out, saving money and speeding up the process of releasing the line. 

McCain Foods is looking to roll out the A3 system across the UK and Europe 

“We’re finding it reliable, we’re finding it useful, and we’re finding the machine really easy to use.” 

Nigel Church, Hygiene Manager, McCain Foods

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