Why did I fail for microbial?
There are a wide variety of possible explanations for microbial failure. When troubleshooting elevated microbial counts, consider the following:
- If you did not personally handle the product from start to finish, it may be well worth your time to review security footage from your facility to ensure no handling protocol was violated in your absence. Every surface, tool, machine, container, and (hopefully gloved) hand that contacts your harvest should be clean and sanitized. Any employee experiencing allergies or illness should wear a mask to avoid contributing bacteria through coughing or sneezing. More than one of our clients has experienced microbial failure – not because there was no protocol to prevent it – but because protocol was not followed in production, processing, or sample selection.
- Critically evaluate the health and cleanliness of your facility. Any dust or debris that accumulates on wall, counter, or floor surfaces over time could be a source of contamination if disturbed. Measure and monitor the humidity and temperature of growing, processing, and storage areas. Sudden failures could be caused by storage conditions that favor microbial growth, for example.
- Look carefully for signs of pests. The bodies and droppings of insects and other pests can contribute significant microbial contamination. Even beneficial insects carry a significant microbial load.
- Carefully review the ingredients of any fertilizers and other soil amendments, as well as any foliar sprays that may in use in your operation. These products can be very beneficial to your plants, but some contain active microbes that, unfortunately, can elevate microbial counts beyond the current LCB limits.
- Investigate your water sources, containers, and hoses. Hoses, in particular, are prone to build up bacterial growth if not regularly sanitized.
If the cause of failure is not readily apparent, we are happy to consult with you to further investigate the source. We can put together a swab kit for your facility and also run microbial screens on any products in use. We do not recommend microbial screening for soil, unless E. Coli or Salmonella are suspected. The presence of other microbes is normal and expected in healthy soil.