Nursing Nipple Contamination
I had an opportunity to meet with nearly 200 calf care persons last week (October 13-15, 2015) in Wisconsin.
One of the activities we did together was to check nursing nipple contamination levels. Many of the folks brought calf feeding equipment to the meetings. We used a Hygiena luminometer to check for contamination levels.
We used the Hygiena SystemSure Plus unit to do adenosine triphosphate (ATP) monitoring. The ATP test is a process of rapidly measuring actively growing microorganisms through the detection of adenosine triphosphate. An ATP monitoring system can detect the amount of microbial contamination that remains after cleaning a surface (for example, calf feeding equipment).
Thresholds used in the food processing industry are less than10 RLU for direct food contact surfaces and less than 50 RLU for environmental surfaces. I have been using a reading of 100 RLU as realistic on-farm upper threshold for calf feeding equipment.
What was the range we found on nipples? They came from both nursing bottles and automatic feeders.
The lowest value was Zero! Yes, a few of them tested "0." They were used nipples that had been scrubbed really really clean.
The highest value was slightly over 2,000. Other values were scatter between 2,000 and 0 with the majority of them between 100 and 500.
It was great to have these numbers - they sparked some great discussion about cleaning procedures. The most common barrier to adequate cleaning was the lack of a brush that would fit up into the nipple. Virtually all of the "clean" nipples were from folks that had such a brush.
So, I guess the moral of the story is that if you don't have a brush that will fit up into your nursing bottle nipples you need to buy one.
I'm off to another calf connection workshop tomorrow so will report on that one later this week.