Categories
Chilled and frozen foods

control and regulation systems.

The equipment and its calibration (calibration).

If the regulatory tolerances are indicated in the HACCP plan, it is necessary to choose the right places for measurement and use reliable calibration equipment and measurement methods. The results obtained in this case can be used to regulate the process conditions (for example, during pasteurization, cooling or storage) or to monitor their compliance with technical requirements. Sensors and related equipment can be installed directly on process equipment (for example, thermometers in an oven, heat exchanger or refrigerator), next to a line (for example, dry weight scales, saline testers or pH meters) or in a laboratory (for example, colorimeters or devices for determining the nitrogen content). Regardless of the location of the device, it must be properly maintained, its sensor must not be contaminated with waste products (which can lead to erroneous signals), the device must be checked regularly, and the operator must be familiar with the methods of measuring or recording the results.

 Process monitoring, certification and verification

The technological operations of production, storage and marketing included in the distribution chain must be controlled to ensure that the entire chain operates within the established limits. Whenever possible, data from control systems should be recorded and used to obtain management and operational information, as well as to analyze trends. Thermocouples can be used to measure product temperatures. To prevent errors in temperature readings, the sensors must be properly prepared, installed and regularly monitored [81]. Responsibility for the safety and quality of the product range is usually shared between several suppliers and manufacturers. The full concentration of enterprises on their core business means that vertical integration in the supply chain is quite rare, and therefore systems for ensuring safety and quality of products rely on effectively regulated contractual relations between the customer and supplier. Even if the principles of creating a safe technology and product are applied, based on the HACCP methodology and taking into account real risks, products that pose a danger to the consumer can still be produced (if the conditions and procedures specified in the HACCP plan are not effective or are not properly implemented way).

Control in this sense is the activity of systematic analysis of the structure and implementation of the HACCP plan by checking the technological process and the produced product. These data can also be compared with technical specifications and other agreements that are not part of the HACCP, but, nevertheless, reflect the requirements of consumers. Usually responsible for control, protecting the interests of consumers, quality control services in the enterprise, regulatory authorities, supervisors and persons controlling suppliers. All of these supervisors and regulatory bodies act as experts working to establish the conformity of a product and technology with the requirements of systems, methods and other requirements of the HACCP plan, and in some cases with / 50 9000 standards.

At a minimum, control should focus on data demonstrating the operation of the enterprise at each critical control point. In order to form an opinion regarding the constancy of product quality or how well the technological process is controlled, all available methods, systems and records of the manufacturer should be used, supplemented, if necessary, by analysis of samples, verification of registration data and control checks. To select the data to be controlled, it is necessary to consider the sequence of stages of the HACCP plan, risk analysis, selection of critical control points, establishment of control criteria and critical limit values, as well as monitoring of critical control points. All stages of the technological process should be covered at which the risk of infection by microorganisms, their survival or growth is significant. The goal is to show how the personnel and management system meet the requirements of the HACCP plan. Production risks identified during the control include inadequate staff training, management methods, a low level of hygiene and separation of raw and heat-treated materials, poor management of heating, cooling or packaging processes, as well as the possibility of producing defective products. After commissioning, control should be carried out regularly and form part of the expert assessment of the scientific and technical content of the HACCP plan.

Robust control based on the validation results. If validation is verified scientific basis of the HACCP plan and a range of risks taken into account. validation

should be carried out before the implementation of the plan and regularly during production, when it becomes part of the expert evaluation procedure of the HACCP system. The validation function is to determine whether real risks have been identified, whether appropriate procedures for the verification of the technological process, sanitary and hygienic and control measures have been implemented (along with the prescribed actions in case technological processes go beyond the established tolerances). Since many chilled products go on sale as ready-to-use products, the storage of which is allowed only in a refrigerated form, setting requirements for proper heat treatment, preventing re-infection and ensuring temperatures and shelf life are necessary operations that should be considered as special risks. Unacceptable parameters of technological processes that can be identified during validation include improper technical conditions or the use of equipment in an inadequate sanitary and hygienic condition, inappropriate recommendations regarding the necessary labor skills, goals, instrumentation or their layout. All this can lead to contamination of the product or unstable operation of canning or distribution systems.

Information processes and samples

Since chilled products have a relatively short shelf life and often go to the distribution system immediately after their release, and if the sale should have as much time as possible, microbiological data cannot be used as a guarantee of safety. There are two reasons for this:

  •  firstly, it is not possible to guarantee that the quality of the processing and ingredients has been verified in a sufficient number of servings throughout the entire production process;
  •  secondly, even when using accelerated methods of analysis, the time required to obtain microbiological data will be longer than the time before the products are sent to the distribution network.

Microbiological data should only be used to monitor suppliers, analyze trends in process control and hygiene, and to monitor “due care”. To control the functioning of the sales chain, data on the monitoring of critical control points must be collected at regular intervals and stored for a period equal to at least the shelf life of the product plus the period of its use. The process data should be recorded, storing them in accordance with the adopted product quality management system in accordance with / 50 9000.

Due to the short shelf life of products, reference samples are a problem in tracking quality changes over time. Some manufacturers store frozen samples, allowing for quality changes caused by freezing, while others take samples of products at the end of their shelf life and compare their organoleptic characteristics with fixed parameters or use physical measurements of the color or size of the ingredients.

 Tracking batches

Packaging of chilled products must be provided with special codes to identify batches of products or ingredients (required by the General Hygiene Directive, 93 / 43). Such coding and related documentation should allow any batches of the finished product and raw materials used in its manufacture to be correlated with the data on the process and laboratory records. In practice, the better the tracking system for individual batches of products and raw materials is developed, the more chances there are to determine and minimize the effects of violations during production or defects in ingredients. Particular attention should be paid to the assignment of each batch of ingredients of its own code for its subsequent identification during production and storage. Supplies of raw materials and packaging (packaging materials) must be stored so as not to lose their identification data. The product recall system and the correct procedures for coding and tracking it will allow you to better respond to a complaint in the event of a marriage.

 Training operators, foremen and supervisors

Personnel involved in the production of refrigerated products should be adequately trained as they make an important contribution to the management of product quality and safety. The best way to achieve this is through standardized job training, which allows staff to participate in the safe release of high-quality products [28, 68]. After such training, personnel should at least understand the most important problems in the field of occupational health of operators involved in the transportation of food products, know the composition of the products, as well as methods for controlling and preventing their re-infection by microorganisms. Many production operations are carried out in conditions of high purity and require brigade work, in connection with which all personnel must be adequately trained and understand the reasons for certain sanitary and hygienic requirements and procedures. Since manufactured products are often ready-to-eat (or the consumer exposes them to minimal heat treatment), personnel and team leaders should have certain responsibilities to minimize the quantity of low-quality or dangerous products. [97] noted that external HACCP consultants are especially useful for small food industry enterprises, as they can help in gathering effective HACCP programs and training staff. It is possible that regular medical examinations are also required to ensure that staff comply with the work-related requirements for medical indications and personal cleanliness.

The audit process

An audit in the sense of this section is the collection of data or information about a technological process or about production during its visit. Checks and audits can be used to determine the correctness of the HACCP plan, the effectiveness of its implementation and suitability to achieve the intended goals. This is especially important where safety is associated with many aspects of the process [85, 93]. One part of the audit is to monitor the operation of the production line, since an effective audit requires more than just checking records. An audit should cover areas such as assessing the structure of a company (enterprise), how much it reflects a strategy for ensuring product quality and safety, working with resources, managing an experimental design department (bureau), methods for accepting materials and ingredients, storing and transporting raw materials and packaging materials etc. The design, management and operation of the equipment should be evaluated taking into account the requirements for product safety and technological processes, their compliance with the methods of application of products consumer and existing equipment. Finally, issues related to production should be checked, such as labor productivity, hygiene and production organization. Due to the importance of refrigerated marketing, particular attention should be paid to logistics. The contribution to the management of the enterprise and the training of the quality service and laboratory personnel should also be evaluated.

The audit can be carried out by both internal and external auditors using the audit schedule. One of the latest innovations is an internal audit of the supplier, which requires the development of partnerships between the supplier and the customer. In this case, the goals of trade cooperation, the resources and materials used are clearly defined in advance, after which the customer and supplier agree on a data package regarding individual characteristics and their registration. To prevent erroneous rejection of the product and ensure realistic management of any risks due to variability of quality parameters and process control, a special request mechanism must be agreed upon. The successful operation of such a system is based on the definition and division of responsibility, as well as on such ownership of technical information in both organizations so that you can always determine the person whose position includes the possession of all necessary information.

This type of audit, in comparison with the traditional (external) one, is characterized by a better ratio of costs and results and provides information for decision-making on an ongoing basis. In some cases, the audit is carried out by inspectors whose authority is given to them by external regulatory bodies, and their ability to control the process may be limited by the possibility of their access to technological information representing trade secrets. The basis of product safety in such systems is the constant flow of data, and when applied correctly, a higher level of consumer protection is achieved than with sampling and testing the final product, since by the time the results of microbiological analysis are ready, the product is likely to be used. To ensure that risks to consumers are minimized, methods for responding to process violations and other deviations should be developed and tested in practice.

Conclusion

A significant increase in sales of ready-made chilled food products continues (especially in Europe), satisfying many of the constantly changing consumer requirements regarding convenience, variety of tastes and aromas, less stringent than before, processing and preserving modes. Products are currently processed using less heat, they contain less preservatives (salt, sugar and acids). In addition, they are less dependent on additives (for example, they use less antimicrobial preservatives such as sorbates and benzoates). Many of these factors contradict the requirements for improving microbiological stability or safety and lead to a weakening of internal canning systems or a decrease in the stability of products.

At the same time, ensuring the safety of products is a fundamentally important requirement of the consumer, and therefore it is of paramount importance to the manufacturer. It is in matters of product safety that modern processing and marketing methods for chilled products, supplemented by appropriately applied HACCP [64] methods, can provide a level of product stability and safety that would not have been achieved without them. Despite the difficulties noted above, there are relatively few basic elements for the efficient and safe handling of chilled products. Among them:

 reliable identification of microorganisms dangerous for specific products, which allows for the development of products to limit the development of microflora, regulated and predictable inactivation of microorganisms during the process, during storage and during formulation development;

 the exception of repeated and cross-infection of the product with microorganisms after disinfection;

 the fight against the survival or growth of any microorganisms remaining in the products (for example, by cooling);

 Providing consumers with clear guidance that meets their expectations.

The effective safe processing and marketing of chilled products depends on the reliable and sustainable implementation of these four components using the tools described in the sections above.

Although the currently used products, when used correctly, are quite effective, this efficiency can be further increased in the future, which is achieved by improving the control and management of the stages of technological processes that are especially important for controlling microorganisms present in products. To a lesser extent, improvements can be expected due to the introduction of new treatment methods (high hydrostatic pressure or homogenization). They. probably only applicable to products in which bacterial spores that carry high blood pressure do not pose a problem (for example, to low pH jams and fruit juices) [47, 82]. Irradiation can also inactivate microorganisms in chilled products [42,43,65], but the resulting changes in organoleptic properties may limit the use of irradiation to increase shelf life and increase safety.

The author thanks Grahame Gould, co-author of this chapter in the previous edition, for his help in working on the new edition.

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