Adherence to proper environmental cleaning practices is critical in food establishments. To validate cleanliness, cleaning practices should be routinely monitored, preferably by a rapid, reliable, and cost-effective method. The aim of this study was to determine whether a correlation exists between ATP bioluminescence measurements and selected microbial assessments in studies conducted in food establishments. A systematic literature review and meta-analysis was conducted using the principles of preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Twelve online databases and search engines were selected for the review. Peer-reviewed articles published in English between January 2000 and July 2020 were included in the search. From a total of 19 eligible studies, 3 that included Pearson correlation coefficients (r) between ATP bioluminescence measurements and microbial assessments were used for the meta-analysis calculations. Only the fixed-effect model produced a strong correlation because one value dominated the estimates: r = 0.9339 (0.9278, 0.9399). In contrast, both the random effects model, 0.2978 (0.24, 0.3471), and the mixed effects model, r = 0.3162 (−0.0387, 0.6711), indicated a weak relationship between ATP bioluminescence and microbial assessments, with no evidence of a strong correlation. The meta-analysis results indicated no sufficient evidence of a strong correlation between ATP bioluminescence measurements and microbial assessments when applied within food establishments. This lack of evidence for a strong correlation between the results of these two monitoring tools suggests that food establishments cannot depend on only one method. Yet, with immediate feedback and quantification of organic soiling, ATP bioluminescence could be an effective monitoring tool to use in food establishments.

  • Cleanliness should be monitored by a rapid, reliable, and cost-effective method.

  • ATP bioluminescence provides immediate feedback and can quantify organic soiling.

  • Only a weak correlation was found between ATP and microbial assessments.

  • Various benchmark values can be used for monitoring tools.

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