8 Corrective Actions for Your Environmental Monitoring Program

June 24, 2023

It is critical to shift from reaction to prevention in an environmental monitoring program (EMP). With a focus on prevention and environmental surveillance, it is expected that from time to time there will be an environmental positive. In fact, a properly executed environmental program should be finding positives and should include appropriate corrective actions to ensure your organization can act swiftly and prevent costly outcomes.

When positive results occur, it is important to have a well-defined and robust protocol to manage the situation and protect customers and consumers. Over the past five years, Neogen has collected information and learnings from hundreds of organizations executing their EMP corrective actions within a digitally transformed process.

With this in mind, here are eight fundamental corrective actions that should be part of any EMP:

  1. Communicate & Confirm Locations - Confirm positive locations and communicate the results to key stakeholders, including internal employees and external parties when necessary. Different protocols should be developed according to different zones.
  2. Act Immediately - If a pathogen positive has been detected and confirmed, stop the operation of the implicated production line and determine the disposition of the impacted product.
  3. Assemble - Bring together critical components. These include people from departments such as Quality/Food Safety, Operations, Maintenance/Engineering, Laboratory, Corporate/Plant, and Crisis Management, as well as relevant historical data and departmental or program data.
  4. Analyze (Root Cause) - Review the history of the affected location and any flow diagram or visual mapping including all testing inputs and outputs. Then, map this information to statements from the team on the floor, any visual inspection information collected, and past corrective actions that may have been executed to determine the source of the contaminant.
  5. Remediate - Address the situation utilizing predetermined policies or standards after root cause analysis. Corrective actions might include breaking down lines, visual inspections, sanitation, additional swabs, and analyzing traffic patterns.
  6. Verify - Once corrective actions are complete, confirm that cleaning and sanitation were effectively performed through additional environmental testing.
  7. Review and Adjust - Use the team's findings to improve processes, sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs), the overall EMP, and plant operations.
  8. Document - Be sure to document everything! The incident and corrective actions may provide invaluable information to assist with future occurrences.


With any good EMP, a small percentage of presumed positives are to be expected. A thorough corrective action process and the tools to track and record this event enable the organization to learn from a positive, use it to improve the overall condition of the environment, and ultimately keep food safer. A digital “always on” system to support the workflow, collection of essential data, and immediate retrieval of information can alleviate the time-consuming and arduous process of information management during a preventative crisis.

To see how Neogen Analytics can help you manage this process, sign up for a demo today!


Category: Food Safety, Consumer Goods, Dietary Supplements, Food & Beverage, Pharmaceutical & Biotech, Microbiology, Pathogens, Environmental Monitoring