Determine if the investigation warrants environmental sampling
Determine what environmental samples to collect
Utilize best practices for collection and transport of environmental samples
Prior to collection
Consult with the laboratory regarding upcoming environmental surface sampling and determine if they have environmental sampling testing protocols
Pack environmental sampling kit supplies. Refer to the "Environmental Sampling Checklist"
Review the investigation notes to determine if environmental sampling is needed:
Is there a known/suspected etiology?
Has a food item(s) been implicated as part of the outbreak?
Choose sampling sites based on processes and pathogen characteristics
Avoid contamination by using sterile/aseptic sampling equipment (i.e. sponges, swabs, Whirl-Paks, buffer solution, gloves)
Properly label samples, which may include:
Who collected the sample
Specific area/sample site (i.e. meat slicer, hand-sink drain)
Sample ID number or unique identifier
Notify the lab to expect incoming environmental samples
Submit samples to the appropriate laboratory as soon as possible after collection
Complete the chain of custody form
Use knowledge of the etiologic agent or implicated food to help inform the sampling site
Based on knowledge of the outbreak, the establishment may have cleaned or sanitized more heavily prior to your sampling. If you suspect this and it fits with the characteristics of the pathogen, move out to other sampling zones
Understand the four zones of environmental sampling (Zone 1: all direct food contact surfaces, Zone 2: areas directly adjacent to zone 1, Zone 3: The area immediately surrounding zone 2, Zone 4: The areas immediately surrounding zone 3). Think about what pathogens would be found in each zone.
During collection, try to work in teams of two to four: a sampler, a person logging and marking sample containers, and a person photographing the sampling.
Environmental Sampling Log (XLS) (click on the document below to download it)