Frequently Asked Questions


When measuring the pH or a solution with pH strips, should you pour the solution onto the pH strip?
No, you should immerse the reaction zone of the strip into the solution for approximately 3 - 5 seconds or until there is no further color change.

How do you compare the results on your strip to the chart on the box?
Compare the reaction zones to the color chart on the box holding the  strip to the top of the box with the reaction zones to the bottom of the box.

When using the Insta Test Strips, how long does it take before having results?

This information is giving on the product's label. (The average is 10-15 seconds)

What is the difference between Total Chlorine and Free Chlorine

Free chlorine refers to both hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and the hypochlorite (OCl-) ion or bleach. Free chlorine is generally added to water systems for disinfection.

Total chlorine is the sum of free chlorine and combined chlorine. The level of total chlorine will always be higher than or equal to the level of free chlorine.

How do you know when the temperature reaches the temperature of the temperature sensitive tape?
The temperature paper will turn black if the dish reaches the temperature indicated on the temperature sensitive tape. 

What is ATP?
ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is present in all organic material, and is the universal unit of energy used in all living cells. ATP is produced and/or broken down in metabolic processes in all living systems. Processes such as photosynthesis in plants, muscle contraction in humans, respiration in fungi and termination in yeast are all driven by ATP. Therefore, most foods and microbial cells will contain some level of naturally occurring ATP. The SystemSURE II luminometer (in conjunction with the Ultrasnap ATP swab) uses bioluminescence to detect residual ATP as an indicator of surface cleanliness. The presence of ATP on a surface indicates improper cleaning and the presence of contamination, including food residue, allergens and/or bacteria. This implies a potential for the surface to harbor and support bacterial growth.

What is the difference between total ATP and free ATP?
Total ATP refers to both living and non-living organisms, while Free ATP refers to just non-living organisms.

Why is ATP a good measurement of the cleanliness of a surface or water sample?

The relationship between the amount of ATP on the sample and the RLU result reading on the luminometer is simple:

High contamination (improper cleaning)
           =
                      Large amount of ATP
                                 =
                                            More light produced in Ultrasnap reaction
                                                       =
                                                                  High RLU reading on SystemSURE II

The RLU reading is directly proportional to the amount of ATP collected from the sample. A high RLU reading indicates a large amount of ATP at the test location. This in turn indicates improper cleaning and the presence of contaminants.

Cleaning properly results in less ATP at the location. Less ATP results in less light output during the bioluminescent reaction and consequently, a lower RLU reading.

What areas should be swabbed, and what is the proper technique?
Food contact areas (direct and indirect) and hard-to-clean areas should be the main focus of your swabbing program. Direct contact areas are surfaces where the presence of any contaminant will taint the final product. Indirect contact areas are those where splashed product, dust, or liquid has the potential to be dropped, drained, or transferred onto the product. Hard-to-clean areas may include filler heads, O-rings, nozzles, and areas with irregularly-shaped surfaces, corners, grooves and cracks. You should swab an area that is about 4 by 4 square inches (10 x 10 cm) – or in the case of a hard-to-clean area, as much of the surface as possible. Do not let the swab come into contact with anything other than the test area to avoid contamination. Apply pressure to the swab to pick up surface residue and penetrate any biofilm that may be present. After collecting the sample, place the swab back in swab tube. The swab can be left inactivated for up to 4 hours, but once the device has been activated, it should be read in the SystemSURE II within 10-60 seconds.

When is the proper time to swab a test site?
Swabbing should be done after cleaning a surface, but prior to the application of a sanitizer. By doing it in this order, you can remove any residue detected by the SystemSURE II with proper cleaning, before applying sanitizer. The sanitizer is then most effective in the removal of microorganisms at its working strength. Swabbing before sanitizing avoids wasting both time and sanitizer by eliminating the need to re-clean and re-sanitize your equipment upon detection of ATP. If this is unavoidable due CIP systems or other reasons, swabbing can be done after a sanitizer has been applied, but it is recommended you wait until the surface has dried.

How often should critical and regular test sites be swabbed?
Critical (high-risk) test sites should be swabbed on a daily basis, after each cleaning or anytime prior to start-up. If a failure is generated, immediate corrective action should be taken and the area re-swabbed until a passing result can be obtained. Corrective action steps may include and additional water rinsing of the entire area or a complete re-cleaning if necessary. Regular (lower-risk) control points may not need to be tested as frequently.

How does temperature affect ATP test result?
Ambient temperature of 20 – 22 degrees Celsius (70 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit) is the temperature that provides optimal performance. The only time ambient temperatures can affect results is if reagents are at a low temperature. This can happen if testing is done immediately after taking the tests out of the refrigerator. If testing in cold environments the SystemSURE Instrument will self-adjust to external temperature but the luciferase reagents needs to be at 20 – 22 degrees °C ( approx 70 degrees °F) to function at their best.

If reagents are cold, then the reaction will be slower and the RLU result for a given amount of ATP will be lower.

Temperature does not affect light measurement of the SystemSURE instrument provided that the instrument has equilibrated to the environmental conditions. The SystemSURE instrument will sense an environmental temperature change of 5 degrees °C and it will automatically initiate a 15 second recalibration sequence.

The user can also initiate a manual recalibration at any time by depressing and holding the OK button down for 3 seconds.

The system can be used in cold environments (e.g. 5 degrees °C) if the instrument is equilibrated for 10 – 15 minutes before use and that the reagent swab devices are kept warm e.g. by storage in an internal pocket close to body heat.

How do you use an ATP Luminometer and Ultrasnap testing swabs?

Here is a demo of how to use the following products:
View the SystemSURE Plus virtual demo.
(flash required).

How is ATP detected by the SystemSURE II and Ultrasnap ATP device?
Ultrasnap swabs are moistened with a buffer that aids in the removal of any biological material (ATP) on either wet or dry surfaces, while also penetrating through any biofilm to expose underlying cells. The ATP from microbiological cells, in addition to free ATP from any food residue, is collected from the sample surface with the Ultrasnap swab, and is then available to react with the unique liquid-stable reagent contained in the device. This reagent is derived from a naturally-occurring enzyme (called luciferase) found in fireflies. When this enzyme reacts with ATP on the Ultrasnap swab, a low-level of light is produced that can be detected and quantified by the SystemSURE II luminometer. The amount of light detected is directly proportional to the amount of ATP on the sample, thus giving you a quantitative measure of the cleanliness of the surface where the sample was taken.

Can the Snapshot Universal ATP swabs be used with the SystemSURE luminometer?

No, the Snapshot Universal ATP swabs are only compatible with the folowing luminometers:
  • BioControl MVP
  • BioControl Lightning
  • Biotrace Uni-Lite
  • Biotrace Uni-Lite XCEL
  • Biotrace NG
  • Biotrace Uni-Lite NG Junior
  • Charm Luminator –T and Lum-K
  • Charm FireFly
  • Charm LUMGiene
  • Celsis Lumac M Series
  • Celsis SystemSURE
  • Merk Hy-Lite
  • What does the number result on the SystemSURE II mean?
    The SystemSURE II luminometer displays results in RLU (Relative Light Unit) values. The light produced from the reaction between ATP and the enzyme in the Ultrasnap device reagent is emitted in the form of photons. The SystemSURE II detects these photons, quantifies them, and displays them as an RLU value. This RLU value and the ATP on a surface are in a 1:1 ratio. Therefore, more ATP present on a surface means more light is emitted in the Ultrasnap reaction, giving a greater RLU number detected by the SystemSURE II.

    How do I set my Pass and Fail thresholds for my ATP program?
    When using the general guideline setting for the SystemSURE II luminometer, readings less than 10 indicate that the surface is considered clean. Readings between 11-29 indicate a warning that the surface has not been adequately clean. If the reading is greater than 30 the surface is considered dirty. Hygiena recommends that a facility determine its own RLU thresholds according to the standards of the facility. Thresholds can very from test point to test point based off of product being run on surfaces and types of surfaces.

    Instrument
    Guideline for
    Threshold Setting
    Pass Caution Fail
    SystemSURE II < 10 11 - 29 > 30

    These threshold settings have been determined based on plate count and ATP correlations studies and results from daily samples in food facilities. Hygiena recommends that you determine your own threshold settings by using one of the two "Recommended Practices" provided below.

    Recommended Practice
    1. Identify control points and critical control points.
    2. Clean product surfaces.
    3. Conduct ATP Hygiene Monitoring tests at several locations and over several days to give 20-50 results. Calculate the average and standard deviation (s.d)for the RLU values.
    4. Set limits as:

          Pass <= Mean RLU
          Caution >= Mean RLU
      < Mean + 3 (s.d)
          Fail >= Mean RLU + 3 (s.d)

          Pass 0 - 10
      RLU
          Caution 11 - 29 RLU
          Fail > 30 RLU

    5. Monitor results and assess trends. Recalculation regularly to optimise limits and improve standards.
    Alternative Procedure
    1. Identify control points and critical control points.
    2. Clean product surfaces thoroughly, even 2 or more times to achieve the best possible level of cleanliness.
    3. Conduct ATP Hygiene Monitoring tests at each location, using 5-10 test replicates.
    4. Calculate the average RLU which is considered to be the pass level.
    5. Fail limits are determined by multiplying the Pass level by 2 or 3 fold.
    6. Caution is the region between Pass - Fail limits.

    Do I have to recalculate Pass/Fail thresholds on my luminometer when using Snapshot?
    No. Snapshot ATP swab reagents have been formulated to have the exact same amount of light output per ATP molecule as the original swab made by the manufacturer for the luminometer you are using.

    How do I know I am getting the correct results with SystemSURE II and Ultrasnap?
    The SystemSURE II is programmed to self-calibrate every time the instrument is turned on. During the 60-second calibration, it is measuring the temperature and humidity, as well as checking the light sensor. If you are unsure whether your instrument is calibrating properly, you can run a positive and negative control test using a “Calibration Control Kit”. You can also check the sample testing devices with the Positive Control Kit.