Bouncing off the definition of sampling we intend to go even deeper into what proper sampling should be: hygienic sampling
The approaches to proper sampling are many, but in this section, we are looking into the standards that we are setting based on our 38 years of experience with sampling. The definition of the concept of sampling is: collecting a small portion of a larger stream that accurately reflects the content of the larger stream. It seems simple. Open into your production and collect a portion, and you have your sample. Unfortunately, when it comes to sampling nothing is as simple as it looks in writing. The sheer lack of knowledge and proper official guidelines within this area causes everyone to invent their own style of sampling potentially incurring a great risk. Bad valves with very poor design and rough surfaces are something we often see. Simple sampling cocks belonging in museums we also encounter all too often. The simple equipment does not allow for proper cleaning or sterilization neither before nor after sampling and can therefore not be regarded as suitable for hygienic and representative sampling.
Aside from the improper sampling equipment we encounter in the field, we also all too often see that the ways of cleaning the valves are something belonging in the past century. This of course is linked to lack of knowledge in the area and no proper guidelines for sampling. A common myth among many operators seems to be that opening the valve and flush it with your product will remove leftovers and flush out most of your problems. Then a simple gentle spraying with alcohol and perhaps even an alcohol-drenched cotton swab will be scrubbed around the edges of the valve-outlet or even poked inside the valve. To top all this off an open flame will be used to actually burn the valve. To put it short; this will not make the valve sterile, this will not even make the valve clean. This will only put your production at risk and pose a hazard to everyone involved in the sampling procedure and the production. Turning back to the definition of sampling, we know the portion we extract from the larger stream should accurately reflect the larger stream. This cannot be the case if you do not handle the sampling valve with care and burning the valve is not caring for it. Only by making sure you have a hygienic sterilizable valve you can be sure your sample reflects your larger stream.
How can your sampling procedure be optimized?
If you agree proper education in sampling is long overdue and has your interest been awaken then look no further, The Keofitt Sampling School may very well be what you need. Read through this section to see what we offer
Sampling has travelled a long way from being a simple activity into somewhat of a science
For Keofitt the key is representative sampling. The sample you extract should flawlessly represent your production. This is also seen in our definition of sampling where “accurately reflect” is key. Representative is defined as something which is “typical of” or “the same as”. For us this means the representative sample is acting on behalf of the production from which the sample was extracted. This should be done without flaws or any risk of making it not representative. To put it short and simple, the portion of your liquid you extract should fully match the rest of your liquid in the tank. For the sample to actually be representative you need to pay attention to the device from where your extract your portion. If this is not handled hygienically, a proper representative sample cannot be collected.
For the purpose of further discussing hygienic sampling we need to look into sterility and sterilization. Sterilizing the valve before sampling is absolute key, is our mantra. However, in many cases you can do with less than complete sterility you just need to make sure your sampling equipment is properly cleaned and disinfected before sampling. This too will allow you to have a sanitary system and give you representative sampling. Sterility is defined as the state of being free form all living microorganisms described as a probability function, meaning the probability of any microorganism surviving sterilization being one in one million. Sterilization is defined as a validated process used to render an item free of all forms of viable microorganisms. In the sterilization process the presence of microorganisms is expressed in terms of probability. Different industries have different limits for what presence of microorganisms they allow. For some, complete sterility is far from needed, and for others being as close as possible is absolutely necessary.
We also all too often see that the ways of cleaning the valves are something belonging in the past century
Hygienic representative sampling calls for proper handling of proper sampling equipment regardless of what level of disinfection is needed. With Keofitt there are many ways for you to obtain a representative sample from your production. When choosing your sampling system, you will have to first of all consider how you want to analyze your sample: physically, chemically or microbiologically. For simple applications where physical analysis is sufficient we have hygienic valves that allow for CIP and will give you representative samples. If you are analyzing your sample microbiologically and you need a sterilizable sampling valve that can give you numerous samples while your production is running, we have a solution there as well. If you have a critical application with high standards and many limitations, we can recommend an aseptic system where you supplement your valve with a single-use sampling bag or with one of our aseptic bottle systems. This allows you to sterilize the flow-path sealed system. It will eliminate airborne contamination and risks of cross-contamination. You can sample representatively in many ways; the key just is to use the right sampling equipment and to use it correctly.
Optimizing: Why Do We Need Sampling Education?
The industry’s lack of knowledge, inconsistency and a careless approach to sampling was a wake-up call for Keofitt. Dedicated to nothing but better samples, Keofitt found proper education was long overdue