Harmful microbes are the enemy when it comes to food safety and preventing contamination is a strong pre-requisite for food manufacturing/processing establishments. Not only are the governing bodies becoming stringent about regulations by the day, but also the general awareness about food safety is on an all-time high. This gives the manufacturers very little margin for error; there is a very thin line between being a million dollar food processor one day and being shut down in the next day for lack of hygienic processing conditions in the processing facility. Hence, food processers of today must take extra efforts in ensuring that the food is being processed in hygienic processing conditions, free from contaminations, especially with respect to what doesn’t meet the eye – harmful microbes. In the meat industry specifically, the food products are more susceptible to contamination from bacteria such as Listeria Monocytogenes and Salmonella among a few others.
Listeria tends to affect vulnerable groups such as the elderly, pregnant women, babies, and people with reduced immunity. Listeria causes a dangerous disease called Listeriosis. To ensure that the processing facility is free from such pathogens, many governing bodies all over the world advice food processing establishments to follow industry best practices and benchmarks for Food Hygiene. In the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has made a Compliance Policy Guide on the control of Listeria Monocytogenes, which outlines the agency’s point of view on controlling this foodborne pathogen. FDA advises processors to consider these recommendations as they relate to each individual operation and tailor control strategies to the specific circumstances of each processing step. To minimize the potential for contamination of food products with Listeria Monocytogenes, FDA recommends that food processing establishments must adopt a sanitation program that includes a written Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOP) and a sanitation maintenance schedule for areas where food is processed and/or exposed. These written SSOP must be made available to the ones responsible for cleaning and sanitation and the personnel must undergo training to ensure compliance to the methods established.
Salmonella on the other hand is the second most active cause of food borne illness and is commonly found in unpasteurized milk, raw egg products, meat, seafood, and poultry. Even if small amounts of Salmonella is found in food, the bacteria can grow and multiply quickly if not contained immediately. It can also spread almost immediately among people especially if they’re not conscious of their personal hygiene. The symptoms of Salmonella can include diarrhoea, fever and abdominal cramps.
These bacteria can thrive in cold, moist environments, including food-processing equipment and a direct consequence of it is the contamination of the food products itself. Salmonella and Listeria can multiply even in challenging low temperature conditions and it is imperative to protect the food products from these harmful bacteria. Like the dairy industry, pasteurization as a concept is becoming increasingly common in the meat industry to realize the full shelf of the meat by heating it to a certain temperature and cooling it immediately to deactivate all harmful microbes thriving on it.
Further, it is an added impetus to ensure that the air surrounding all processing machinery in the food processing facility is clean and up to the standards required so as not to spread air-borne microbes, spores and moulds. Overall, a hygienic work environment is a necessity to ensure that the output is clean, safe and has maximum shelf-life.
Sinteco manufactures all its equipment with a HYGIENIC design and Sinteco’s Pasteurization lines, HYGIENIC Air Handling Units and Air Ducts can be used to ensure a high level of sanitation in the food processing facilities. Does your business manufacture food that is susceptible to microbial contamination? Are you interested in the contents of this article? Contact us for more details today!