Processing environment monitoring in low moisture food production facilities: Are we looking for the right microorganisms?

François Bourdichon*, Roy Betts, Christophe Dufour, Séamus Fanning, Jeffrey Farber, Peter McClure, Despoina Angeliki Stavropoulou, Ellen Wemmenhove, Marcel H. Zwietering, Anett Winkler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Processing environment monitoring is gaining increasing importance in the context of food safety management plans/HACCP programs, since past outbreaks have shown the relevance of the environment as contamination pathway, therefore requiring to ensure the safety of products. However, there are still many open questions and a lack of clarity on how to set up a meaningful program, which would provide early warnings of potential product contamination. Therefore, the current paper aims to summarize and evaluate existing scientific information on outbreaks, relevant pathogens in low moisture foods, and knowledge on indicators, including their contribution to a “clean” environment capable of limiting the spread of pathogens in dry production environments. This paper also outlines the essential elements of a processing environment monitoring program thereby supporting the design and implementation of better programs focusing on the relevant microorganisms. This guidance document is intended to help industry and regulators focus and set up targeted processing environment monitoring programs depending on their purpose, and therefore provide the essential elements needed to improve food safety.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109351
JournalInternational Journal of Food Microbiology
Early online date06 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was conducted by an expert group of the European branch of the International Life Sciences Institute, ILSI Europe. The research question addressed in this publication and potential contributing experts in the field was identified by the Microbiological Food Safety Task Force. Members of this task force are listed on the ILSI Europe website at According to ILSI Europe policies, the EG is composed by at least 50% of external non-industry members. The complete composition of the EG can be found at Once the expert group was formed, the research project was handed over to them to independently refine the research question. Consequently, the expert group carried out the work, i.e. collecting/analysing data/information and writing the scientific paper independently of other activities of the task force. The research reported is the result of a scientific evaluation in line with ILSI Europe's framework to provide a precompetitive setting for public-private partnership. The authors would like to thank Dr Guerrino Macori (University College Dublin) for generating certain figures of the manuscript. ILSI Europe facilitated scientific meetings and coordinated the overall project management and administrative tasks relating to the completion of this work. For further information about ILSI Europe, please email or call +3227710014. The opinions expressed herein and the conclusions of this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of ILSI Europe nor those of its member companies, nor any regulatory authority. Experts are not paid for the time spent on this work; however, the non-industry members within the expert group were offered support for travel and accommodation costs from the Microbiological Food Safety Task Force to attend meetings to discuss the manuscript and a small compensatory sum (honorarium) with the option to decline.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors


  • B. cereus
  • Cronobacter spp.
  • Dry foods
  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Food safety
  • Listeria monocytogenes
  • Processing environment monitoring
  • Recontamination
  • Salmonella spp.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology


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