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Tag Archive: Pasteurization

  1. The importance of food safety in processing plants

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    Food safety is one of the most important aspects for processing plants around the nation. Each year, facilities try to prevent any food illness outbreaks or bacterial contamination by following the strictest sanitary regulations, but sometimes facilities lack awareness of the simplest safety measures.

    More awareness on organic products

    For food processing facilities, there’s a lot of emphasis on creating healthy, nutritional and safe products for consumers. The organic market in the U.S. has completely skyrocketed in the last decade as more consumers look for healthier products. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, organic products are sold in approximately 20,000 natural food stores

    Additionally, organic products are now offered in roughly 3 of 4 standard grocery stores, and overall organic sales accounts for 4 percent of the total food sales in the country. With the demand for organics only rising, food processing plants have to put more emphasis on safe, healthy and nutritious products.

    The 2010 USDA Dietary Guidelines Committee claimed processed food is anything other than a raw agricultural commodity, which is most prepackaged or canned foods. The committee added that processed foods typically undergo chemical or mechanical operations to preserve the food items and keep them safe for consumers.

    Since organic food items have increasingly become a large portion of Americans’ diets, the attention paid to creating a safer product is critical for any food processing plant. According to the Albuquerque Journal, food processing prevents items from spoiling through canning, drying, freezing, or self-curing methods.

    The importance of heat

    One of the most important steps to performing these processing methods is heat, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Food processing facilities depend on heat treatment equipment such as shell and tube heat exchangers to kill harmful microbes and to deactivate plant enzymes that would make the food spoil.

    However, there’s a fine line between heating a food item to kill microbes and ruining the taste or texture of the product. According to the source, if the heating process is performed improperly, the food product can severely lose nutritional value. Vitamins and nutrients are an essential part of why people consume food and too much heat can ruin these elements.

    Need for custom heat exchangers

    Custom shell and tube heat exchanger equipment is vital for keeping the maximum nutrients in a food product through the processing method without allowing harmful bacteria to grow. Because each food product is unique in its own way, facility operators need to use custom equipment that ideally works better with the type of food product being processed. Custom heat exchangers give processing plants more options for heat treatment on different products rather than standard equipment that is only supposed to be used on certain items.

    Creating safer products

    The demand for safer products can be addressed with new equipment such as custom shell and tube heat exchangers to create safer products. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the agency enforces food processing facilities to have a control plan if they handle any one of the eight major food allergens. These products include: fish, shellfish, milk, eggs, soybeans, tree nuts, peanuts and wheat.

    To create the maximum level of safety in processing plants, facilities must then address six key issues:

    • Training and supervision to make sure all employees in the facility are up to date on hygiene and contamination issues.
    • Separating food items in storage and handling processes to limit cross contamination in other food products in the facility.
    • Updating cleaning procedures so equipment is completely fit for food processing.
    • Acknowledging all cross contamination issues within the facility to ensure products are handled in appropriate areas.
    • Making sure all items are properly labeled with appropriate allergens or USDA guidelines.
    • Implementing a supplier control program to ensure all ingredients are properly labeled on the food item.
  2. 5 tips to help prevent contamination in food processing facilities

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    Food processing plants have to maintain the upmost standards when properly handling food products for consumers. Anything from airborne debris to facility moisture can form harmful bacteria that could ultimately affect the end product.

    There are ways to prevent contamination and cross contamination in processing facilities. Here are five tips to keep food facilities safe:

    1. Keep ramps and carts clean

    The majority of methods to keeping a food processing facility safe are through sanitation. Every food facility operations manager wants to keep their plant as safe as possible from contamination, but sometimes it’s easy to forget or not know which parts are most necessary to clean.

    Pat Hottel, technical director for McCloud Services, a leader in pest management solutions, explained that ramps used to move carts with organic and nonorganic products need to be properly cleaned and dried to prevent excess moisture.

    This also applies to carts and rampways that enter and exit the freezer as well. According to the Australian Department of Health, bacteria are simply dormant when food items are frozen. When items are refrigerated, they are only paused for a few days or weeks before they grow bacteria.

    However, in freezing conditions, food processing facilities have to still clean freezer areas to kill bacteria since chemicals and heat are the only two methods to removing bacteria growth.

    2. Color code brushes and buckets

    To prevent cross contamination, brushes and buckets used in food processing facilities should be color coded to make it easier for clean up a sanitation operating procedure report from Penn State Berkey Creamery stated.

    One color should be used to clean pasteurized food contact surfaces, while another should be used to clean nonfood contact surfaces. Additionally, the creamery said a third color should be used to clean surfaces with raw milk products and the last color should only be applied for floor drain cleaning.

    This changes per food item at each plant, but bucket and brush protocols should be very similar.

    3. Clean all equipment and machinery

    This might seem like a no-brainer for food processing plant operators, but all equipment and machinery must be cleaned to prevent contamination, Food Quality and Safety reported. Refrigeration equipment, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, contact surfaces, drains, plant equipment, and shell and tube heat exchangers need to be properly cleaned to prevent outbreaks.

    Using stainless steel shell and tube heat exchangers and other equipment helps protect against bacterial contamination because the alloy can handle intense cleaners and daily cleanings. Stainless steel equipment is easily cleaned and it will last much longer than other metal equipment products.

    4. Ensure workers are healthy

    Food handling in processing facilities requires a lot of human interaction with items that could get contaminated if someone were sick or infected the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reported. Additionally, food handling employees should not be at work if they are sick, vomiting, have diarrhea or are showing symptoms of a sore throat or fever.

    When workers are healthy and safe around food products, the chance of contamination is further limited. Just like food processing equipment, employees must keep sanitized by washing their hands and wearing clean clothes.

    5. Make sure products are heated with appropriate equipment

    One of the biggest problems food processing facilities have with contamination issues is properly heating food products to the right temperature, the PSU report stated. Facilities need the right shell and tube heat exchanger to heat products to adequately kill the bacteria.

    Many operators believe any heat exchanger will do the job, but there are specific variables such as the type of product, the heating requirements and the amount of products being made, that all factor into the equipment size. Speaking with a heat exchanger professional could get a processing plant on the right track.

  3. Battling Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in food processing facilities

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    Food processing facilities have to be on top of their game when it comes to controlling bacteria in the workplace. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), food-processing facilities with ready-to-eat meat and poultry products are highly susceptible to Listeria monocytogenes (Lm). The bacterium often contaminates these meat products and other moist environments, soil and decaying vegetation, Science Daily reported.

    Each year, there are more than 1,600 illnesses, 1,500 hospitalizations and 260 deaths from Lm infections. While Listeriosis is extremely rare compared to E. coli and Salmonella, Lm can still affect those who consume it.

    Using efficient equipment to control Listeria

    Lm can grow at temperatures as low as 34 degrees and it usually has characteristics that make it grow in high volumes, the USDA reported. With the temperature so low for contamination, food-processing facilities have to make sure their heat exchangers are able to control the temperature no matter how minuscule the change is to make sure Lm cannot grow.

    According to Kornacki Microbiology Solutions, Inc., it’s rare that food-processing plants are inefficient with microbiological control, but equipment can collect moisture and transmit Lm.

    “These exist where moist, entrapped (or standing) residues are located in close proximity to the product stream,” Kornacki stated in a report. “Such an area might include the back plate of a poorly sealed positive displacement pump used to remove product from a heat exchanger or residues entrapped in poorly designed valves located subsequent to a validated Critical Control Point in the process stream.”

    Temperature can make all the difference

    Kornacki described different levels of risk for Listeria in food products and explained that in the instance of an exposed and cooling site where a molten cheese product was at 135 degrees, contamination could occur in wet areas in the facility, including from floors or ceiling watermarks. If the cheese product wasn’t heated, it would be deemed a high-risk area.

    However, the heat level to kill off the bacteria varies by strain, so food processing facilities have to have flexibility to adjust their heating temperatures to keep harmful bacteria such as Lm out of the product, the source reported. Using the correct sanitary stainless steel heat exchanger could give facilities the ability to work with different temperatures ranges and send out a better and safer product.

  4. Dairy manufacturer recalls yogurt after pasteurization malfunction

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    Pasteurization is an absolutely critical stage for yogurt, milk, cheese and other dairy products so they can be sold, shipped and consumed. The process needs to heat up the dairy products at the correct temperature with shell and tube heat exchangers. One problem that many dairy and beverage processing facilities have is out-of-date heat exchangers.

    This equipment is one of the most essential parts to successfully pasteurize yogurt and other dairy products. However, many people do not know that certain heat exchangers have to be used on specific products. There’s simply not a one-size-fits-all solution to heat exchangers and talking to a professional could get a food or beverage processing facility on track to ensure safe products.

    Malfunction in pasteurization process and equipment

    A major recall occurred recently after a Washington state creamery performed poor pasteurization processes that eventually led to a voluntary recall on one lot ofits whole milk yogurt, Food Safety News reported.

    Flying Cow Creamery explained in a press release that the pasteurization process requires an adequate heat for milk products to eliminate harmful bacteria like Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella.

    “The process of making yogurt at Flying Cow Creamery takes the milk beyond the required pasteurization time,” Flying Cow Creamery stated. “However, during the production of Batch 70, the time and temperature recorder malfunctioned leaving no record that the yogurt was properly pasteurized. As a precaution, Flying Cow Creamery is voluntarily recalling one batch of yogurt. They are not aware of any illness or complaints associated with the recalled yogurt.”

    The products are commonly known to be in 32-ounce glass jars with a white lid with a white lid, Food Poisoning Bulletin reported. The “best before date” reads Dec. 3 on all the potentially affected products.

    Some of the areas the yogurt was sold were in retail locations such as: Chehalis, Federal Way, Olympia, Rochester, Seattle and Tacoma. According to Food Safety News, the dairy company contacted all the retailers and informed them to remove the items from their shelves.

    As of right now, there are no reports of sick consumers, but the company wants to get the information out as fast as possible and take all precautions, the source reported.

    “If you have this product, you are urged to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund or replacement,” Flying Cow Creamery said. “Consumers with questions may contact the company.”

  5. Turkey processing plant under OSHA inspection after rash of sick employees

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    A turkey processing facility located in Willmar, Minnesota, recently had some of its employees sent to a local hospital after a mysterious illness caused about 30 different workers to suffer from symptoms
    like heavy coughing and vomiting, Processing Magazine reported.

    The illness was discovered on Oct. 18, and at least seven ambulances and a bus were sent to the processing facility to hospitalize the sick employees, the source reported. The majority of the processing plant workers were quickly treated and sent home later in the day. However, one worker had to be admitted after showing severe signs of illness.

    The quick outbreak caused several employees inside the plant to suffer from breathing difficulties, CBS affiliate WCCO reported. The first two employees were taken outside after reporting trouble breathing.

    “The complaint was someone was having difficulty breathing and coughing,” said Brad Hanson, a local paramedic on the scene, according to the source.

    None of the patients reported a fever as the numerous firefighters, medical workers and hazardous material crews inspected the processing facility.

    “We were trying to deal with a very large crowd,” said Hanson, according to the source. “There were people all sick and throwing up, and we were trying to put triage tags on them.”

    Appropriate heating equipment essential in food processing

    Typically, one of the biggest causes of illness outbreaks is equipment failure. More times than not, bacteria build-up can occur in food or on equipment if it does not reach the appropriate temperatures. Processing facilities need to ensure they have the correct shell and tube heat exchangers to deliver the highest quality food products.

    Utility equipment, like heat exchangers used in ammonia cooling systems, heat recovery operations and cleaning systems also need to be built to applicable codes like ASME and TEMA, to ensure leak-free operations for safety and efficiency reasons.

    For the Minnesota food processing plant, there were no signs of major equipment failures that could have leaked gas, carbon monoxide or ammonia, Hanson stated, according to WCCO.

    “Nothing of the normal things you would have at a processing plant that would make anybody sick,” Hanson added.

    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was sent to inspect the turkey processing facility to ensure federal safety guidelines were being followed, ABC affiliate KSTP reported. The building was previously inspected in February 2013, and no violations were discovered.

    The company, owned by Hormel Foods, released a statement after the incident occurred, the Star Tribune reported.

    “The health and well-being of our employees is our top concern during this time,” the statement said. “Our employees are being evaluated by local health care professionals this evening.”

  6. New food packaging could be at risk for harmful bacteria

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    A lot rides on packaging in food processing – strict guidelines have to be followed to keep harmful bacteria from entering products. While food processing facilities use sanitary shell and tube heat exchangers to control the temperature of food, contaminates such as bacteria and toxic formations can occur in the packaging process, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reported.

    The FDA said the two most important factors to consider in food processing is time and temperature management. Following both closely will help prevent any harmful substances or toxins from growing in the product. The FDA also recommended four other issues to take into judgment during food processing:

    • Know the types of pathogenic bacteria that are plausible in food processing.
    • Understand the initial amount of bacteria that first occurs in the food.
    • Find the temperatures at which certain bacteria can grow and infect the product.
    • Learn what bacteria can grow in certain types of food products.

    Demand for new packaging?

    In the food processing industry, many companies want to create a tasty, safe and easily accessible product for customers. According to a recent survey by Canadean, research discovered that approximately 1 in 5 consumersfind it difficult to open tinned food.

    Of the respondents, young adults between the ages of 25 and 34 were the most likely (28 percent) to be upset over difficult tin packaging such as tuna or beans. However, Canadean also found that only 16 percent of those aged 55 and above found it frustrating to open these food products.

    Even though it’s tough to believe younger adults are griping about how their food is packaged, food processing companies are taking the information as extremely valuable data so they can redevelop their position on packaging.

    New risks associated with different packaging

    However, with new packaging, food processing facilities have to make sure their boxes, cans or pouches are safe for the consumer and don’t have any harmful bacteria. Food processing plants will need the appropriate sanitary heat exchanger to make sure the product is correctly heated, poured and stored without any bacteria growth in the end product.

    With incorrect or outdated shell and tube heat exchangers, food processing plants could risk the possibility of not killing off all the appropriate bacteria in food products before storing them for shipment. Updating the facility’s heat exchangers to efficient sanitary stainless steel units could mean all the difference.

  7. Massachusetts seafood processing facility warned by FDA about temperature control

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    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.