Microbial Process Validation consists in validating with scientific information that a process is capable of effectively mitigating a microbial hazard of concern. The ability of a process to inactivate a target pathogen is usually measured by the log reduction of the pathogen in a target product. For instance, a 5-log reduction of Salmonella in a spice product, a nut, a flour product, etc. using a thermal process. Process validation is a cornerstone of the major international Food Safety Standards & Regulations.
Conducting a proper validation project usually requires using a combination of scientific methodologies, which can be categorized in 3 groups:
- Literature review
- Mathematical modeling
- Experimental trials at lab, pilot and plant-scale
In-Plant Validation Studies are usually considered as a “gold standard” for they provide real-life data of a process efficacy. Data generated from in-plant trials provide food processors with the highest level of scientific robustness, as the tests are performed directly on the process to validate, in its real industrial environment.