Environmental Monitoring


An environmental monitoring program (EMP) is a program that includes pathogen or indicator swabbing as appropriate to detect risks in sanitary conditions in the processing or food handling environment.

Applicable Code Requirements

  • 2.4.8

Review Glossary Terms

  • High-Risk Area
  • High-Risk Food
  • High-Risk Food Processes

Implementation & Audit Guidance

What does it mean?

An environmental monitoring program must be in place for food processes that are handled, exposed, stored, processed, or packed. This program should be included for food processes of all risk levels. This element outlines the specific conditions required in areas where food is processed or handled. Conditions like these may contain pathogenic microorganisms and will support the formation of toxins or growth of pathogenic microorganisms and has a likelihood of growth causing illness or injury to a consumer if not properly produced, processed, distributed, and/or prepared for consumption. It may also apply to a food that is deemed high risk by a customer, declared a risk by the relevant food regulation, or has caused a major foodborne illness outbreak (refer to the SQF Code, Appendix 2: Glossary).

Why is it in the Code & why is it important?

The process flow is particularly relevant for high-risk processes where the product is subject to handling or exposure after a “kill-step.” This includes (refer to segregation of the postprocess end from the raw material end of the process, controlling pedestrian walkways to avoid personnel contamination, dedicated tools and equipment post-process, dedicated staff servicing the post-process end, and dedicated uniforms for staff working post-process.

The reference to the environmental monitoring program is self-explanatory but is worth repeating as it is considered mandatory for areas in which high-risk food is processed, handled, or exposed. Failure to have an effective environmental monitoring program will result in a major non-conformance.

An environmental monitoring program (EMP) is a program that includes pathogen swabbing to detect risk in the sanitary conditions of the processing environment and is a verification of the effectiveness of the pathogen controls that a management site has in place for high-risk foods (refer Appendix 2: Glossary of Terms).

Swabbing must include not only the smooth, accessible parts of the process but also, the transfer points, bearings, etc., where product is likely to build up.

Additional References

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Updated Date: 2022/12/01

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