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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Nov;74(22):6918-22. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00547-08. Epub 2008 Sep 26.

Microbiological analysis of food contact surfaces in child care centers.

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Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Tennessee, 2605 River Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996-4591, USA.


A study of six child care centers was conducted to assess the microbiological quality of three food contact surfaces (one food serving surface and two food preparation surfaces) and one non-food contact surface (diaper changing surface) to determine the effectiveness of cleaning and sanitization procedures within the facilities. Aerobic plate counts (APCs) and Escherichia coli/coliform counts of 50-cm(2) areas on all surfaces were determined using standard microbiological swabbing methods. Samples were taken three times a day (preopening, lunchtime, and following final cleanup) twice per month for 8 months in each child care center (n = 288 sampling times). Mean log APCs over the survey period were 1.32, 1.71, 1.34, 1.96, 1.50, and 1.81 log CFU/50 cm(2) for the six centers. Mean log coliform counts were 0.15, 0.40, 0.33, 1.41, 0.28, and 1.12 CFU/50 cm(2) for the same centers. Coliforms were detected in 283 of 1,149 (24.7%) samples, with counts ranging from 1 to 2,000 CFU/50 cm(2), while E. coli was detected in 18 of 1,149 (1.6%) samples, with counts ranging from 1 to 35 CFU/50 cm(2). The findings of this study demonstrated that the extent of bacterial contamination was dependent on the center, time of day, and the area sampled. While no direct correlation between contamination and illness can be made, given the high risk of food-borne illness associated with children, microbial contamination of food contact or non-food contact surfaces is an aspect of food safety that requires more attention. Emphasis on training and the development of modified standard sanitation operating procedures for child care centers are needed to reduce potential hazards.

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