Microbiological Trending of Environmental Monitoring Data

Microbiological trending of environmental monitoring data serves multiple purposes:

  • Trending helps to define and hone your limits
  • Trending helps to determine if control of your processes has been lost (or is heading that way)
  • Trending helps to identify the effectiveness CAPA and process ‘improvements’

In order to produce relevant trends, you need to have defined what your alert and action levels are and how many times in a row an alert constitutes an action. You also need to define how many below alert results may indicate an adverse trend. Basically you want to get what is heading out of control under control.

Data to trend includes all data collected from your viable environmental monitoring program.  Showing these trends in graphs allows for easy identification of trends.  As part of your trending, you should identify your top 10 microbe species detected within your production facility.

You need to have a defined trending and reporting period and reports need to be signed off both by the microbiologist and QA manager.

Your internal processes and documents will be dependent on which regulatory bodies have oversight at your facility.

A more detailed, though old post regarding trending can be read here.

Some resources:
http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodScienceResearch/LaboratoryMethods/ucm124900.htm

http://www.microbiologyforum.org/content/file/PMFNews.17.03.1103.pdf

https://www.pda.org/docs/default-source/website-document-library/chapters/presentations/midwest/making-sense-of-your-environmental-monitoring-data.pdf?sfvrsn=4

Notes on International Standard ISO 13408-1: 2008

One of the main International Standards used as a reference document in a sterile pharmaceutical microbiology laboratory is ISO13408 – Aseptic Processing of Health Care Products .  Long ago, I reviewed the 1998 edition.  More recently, I acquired ISO 13208-1 (2008), so I compared my notes from the 1988 version with what is stated in the 2008 version.  The use of italics is my way of emphasising points.  Notes on changes are in blue.

INTRODUCTION

When I reviewed the 1998 edition, I did not note down any of the introduction.

  • Anything labelled as sterile needs to made under tight control as part of a Quality Management System
  • This part of the ISO focusses on the risks to the maintenance of sterility
  • All possible sources of contamination need to be controlled and a risk based approach is recommended
  • Appropriate validation of the aseptic process is needed and process simulation trials are an essential part of this

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Microbiology For Non Microbiolgists

I have experience developing training and presenting it to small to medium sized groups. Part of this process involves determining the way in which to present the training. Once such way to use some form of visuals in support of speaking. For my Microbiology for Non Microbiologists course, I used Microsoft Powerpoint.

Duration of Session:

  • 60 minutes x1, followed by 10 minutes x1 (display style)
  • Number of attendees: 5-10

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Disinfection of active air-samplers

The Question posed on LinkedIn.

Avoiding cross-contamination when using microbiological air-samplers is a key activity. But how effective is the procedure? To evaluate this, Tim Sandle and Ravikrishna Satyada have written a paper based on test data…link to Disinfection of active-air samplers.

My comment:

For filling rooms, I’d always use a double wrapped autoclaved sampling head. For ancillary rooms where the risk to the product was lower, IPA was used rather than a new head.

With internal sanitation of air samplers, when I’ve validated units like the Merck MAS100 and Biomeriux RSC+, spraying with IPA was shown to be sufficient.

With regards of HEPA filtering the output airflow, smoke pencil studies showed laminar flow would take the air to the floor. Correct placement of the air samplers within the filling space and ensuring only samplers assigned to critical filling areas were used in critical filling areas would reduce the risk of cross contamination.

Good that you data showed effective sanitation and a lack (or low) cross contamination risk.

Approaches to trend analysis of micro monitoring during aseptic processing?

The Question posed on LinkedIn.

“Companies are expected to perform trending of their monitoring data. Detecting adverse trends should help to prevent exceedings of regulatory limits, as defined e.g. in Annex 1 to the EU or PIC/S GMP Guide for aseptic operations.

As you all know, microbial counts do not follow a normal Gaussian but a logarithmic distribution, such that the classical way of calculating and defining thresholds for alert (often +/- 2s) and action (+/- 3s) cannot be applied.

Hence, what alternative approaches to setting alert and action limits for microbio monitoring data (environment, staff, water, …) do you apply?”

My advice:

You need to have defined what your alert and action levels are and how many times in a row a site can be in alert before this constitutes an action. You also need to define how many below alert results may indicate an adverse trend.

Basically you want to get what is heading out of control under control.

You need to have a defined trending and reporting period and reports need to be signed off both by the microbiologist and QA manager.

Your internal process and documents will be dependant on which regulatory bodies have oversight at your facility.

The FDA, PDA, PIC(S), ICH and good resources like the PMF are valuable when developing your internal processes.

Some resources:
http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodScienceResearch/LaboratoryMethods/ucm124900.htm

http://www.microbiologyforum.org/content/file/PMFNews.17.03.1103.pdf

https://www.pda.org/docs/default-source/website-document-library/chapters/presentations/midwest/making-sense-of-your-environmental-monitoring-data.pdf?sfvrsn=4

The Importance of Trending

What is Trending?

Trending, when used in a pharmaceutical microbiology laboratory, is the examination of long term data in order to examine if a controlled process is moving away from the state of control. Trending can also be used to determine the stability of a product’s efficacy by examining the results of testing over time. Stability trends are important to support expiry dates and storage conditions. Continue reading

Viable Environmental Monitoring

What Is Viable Environmental Monitoring (VEM)?

Viable environmental monitoring is the monitoring of factors within a production environment that may have an impact on the quality of goods produced within the environment. Typically this is any physical object than could support or introduce microbial contamination to a manufacturing environment: air, surfaces (as in introduced equipment), liquids, people.

Why Is VEM Needed?

Microbial monitoring is used to determine if the controlled environmental being monitored is within an adequate state of microbiological control (i.e whether or not the area meets the specifications as described in the site quality manual, product registration dossiers and associated documents) . It may also be used to confirm that cleaning and sanitation is effective (and being conducted as specified) and that personnel within the production environment are not carrying an unacceptable bioload or inadvertently causing contamination. This is required information as it ensures that products produced are unadulterated and are fit for their intended purpose. Continue reading