Food processing plants rely on temperature control to keep their products' shape, form, taste and edibility. When handling raw materials, a lot of work needs to go in to protecting workers and the consumers who buy the products. Items such as eggs, milk, cheese and meat all need to be correctly handled in food processing facilities, according to the book Postharvest Handling and Preparation of Foods for Processing.
Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning letter to a Massachusetts-based seafood-processing plant that had numerous violations from the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) last month, Food Safety News reported. The violations were directed toward the company's pasteurized canned crab meat, which was contaminated from the specific infringements deemed to the facility.
According to the source, one of the violations was for a lack of controlling clostridium botulinum toxin formation hazards in seafood processing plants. According to the FDA, about 10 outbreaks of the formation occur annually in U.S. food processing facilities.
Some of the symptoms such as vertigo, double vision and difficulty in breathing, swallowing and speaking can occur within 18 to 36 hours after a person consumes the product. These symptoms are caused from microorganisms that are toxic and without the proper treatment, respiration problems, paralysis and even death can occur.
What causes clostridium botulinum toxin formation?
Growth in toxic formation is from food processors improperly storing and distributing, as well as using the incorrect temperature and time in food processing, the FDA reported.
The government agency recommends several different strategies to control pathogen growth in seafood products. However, one of the most important is to limit the introduction of bacteria once the product is pasteurized and cooked, right before the food is packaged and oxygen is reduced.
To keep the right amount of necessary bacteria in food processing, manufacturers need the highest quality sanitary shell and tube heat exchangers to make sure seafood is appropriately heated and controlled at the right temperature.
Seafood plant ordered to monitor temperatures
As for the Massachusetts seafood facility, the FDA said it must keep efficient records of continuous temperature-monitoring devices, Food and Safety News reported.
"Specifically, your corrective action plan does not include procedures to bring affected products back under temperature control or procedures to investigate the root cause of the deviation to ensure control of the process," the FDA warning letter stated.