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Sampling and sampling plans

Taking samples also includes an important decision: how to do the sampling and choose the right sampling plan?

Production operations in the food industry inevitably include times when you will need to perform sampling in order to measure or assess the quality or properties of raw materials, ingredients, additives and products in process or products. Finished products.

Sampling includes sampling plan and this is where it can get complicated . There is indeed an almost endless array of sampling methods and sampling plans that you can use to collect the samples needed for your evaluations.

How to choose a sampling method?

The first step is to determine what you want to sample, why you want to do it and whether or not you want to do an exhaustive sampling, etc .:

  • Exhaustive sampling will give you a more reliable answer in terms of confidence level but will require taking a larger number of samples.

  • Normal or reduced sampling will give you a little less certain result in terms of confidence level but will require taking a smaller number of samples.

  • The value of the sampled items will also guide you on the selection of the method :

    • The more value the item has , the more the tendency will be to choose a sampling method requiring a smaller number of samples.

    • The more the sampled item is considered critical in a process , medical treatment, etc. the more the tendency will be to choose a sampling method requiring a larger number of samples

  • Another important question is whether you tolerate destructive sampling or not.

  • Finally, it is important to know whether you will do a sampling by attribute (property of the product) or to measure a parameter in the form of an expected numerical value or not.

The best methods for the food industry

There are several sampling methods suitable for the food industry and among the most reliable are those based on ISO standards. CODEX ALIEMTNARIUS sampling methods are also an excellent choice as they are specifically developed for foods and are also based on ISO standards . CCMAS is a CODEX ALIMENTARIUS committee dedicated to food analysis and sampling methods.  It keeps them up to date and makes them accessible to all in several languages. Here is a link to the documents produced by this committee which will help you choose among several methods all applicable to the agri-food sector.

Another possibility to explore is methods based on military standards.

The sampling plan

And the sampling plan ?

Well the sampling plan comes most of the time with the method but there will still be choices to be made such as for example:

  • Single or double sampling

  • Exhaustive/intensive or normal level

  • Normal, reduced or special level

  • Resampling or not

  • One or two levels

  • Etc.

How to choose the sampling plan?

It will depend:

  • On each product

  • On why you perform sampling

  • On the desired level of confidence

  • If it is to comply with a regulatory or normative compliance requirement for which the sampling method and plan are determined in advance

  • Customer requirements

We are able to help and support you in the choice of sampling methods and plans. This will allow you to better understand and demystify these tasks while allowing you to apply them with the confidence of choosing and using an adequate method and sampling plan for each case. It will also help improve your level of regulatory and normative compliance as well as compliance with your customers ' requirements while using sampling methods and plans recognized by the regulatory authority and your customers . This will also make your approach more rigorous and allow you to make better choices in terms of sampling ; This will save you time and money, it will increase efficiency and you simplify the task.

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