COOLING

Historical Aspects of Cooling

Before mechanical refrigeration systems were introduced, ancient peoples, including the Greeks and Romans, cooled their food with ice transported from the mountains. Wealthy families made use of snow cellars, pits that were dug into the ground and insulated with wood and straw, to store the ice. In this manner, packed snow and ice could be preserved for months. Stored ice was the principal means of refrigeration until the beginning of the 20th century, and it is still used in some areas.

What is Cooling / Stabilization?

The process of cooling (or chilling) is mainly used to inhibit the destructive action of bacteria, yeast, and mold. Many perishable products can be frozen, permitting them to be kept for months and even years with little loss in nutrition or flavour or change in appearance. The main focus of cooling is to prevent or limit the growth of spore-forming bacteria capable of producing toxins either in the product, or in the human intestine after consumption.

Important Cooling Validation Considerations

Many variants play a role in ensure adequate cooling of meat and poultry products. A successful validation study needs to include a detailed description of the worst-case-scenario for the product/s under evaluation. Product/s should be selected on the basis of:

 

  • Product size
  • Presence / absence of inhibiting agents such as nitrite/nitrates
  • Positioning of the cooling units / fans relative to product
  • Warm-spots (i.e., zone where product has the slowest cooling rate), stagnant areas in cooler / chiller, among other variants.

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UNDERSTANDING HAZARDS AND CONTROL MEASURES

The primary hazards of concern during cooling are:

  • Clostridium (C.) perfringens, and C. botulinum.

According to FSIS Appendix B: These are anaerobic organisms; in other words, they can grow without oxygen. These microorganisms do not grow well in the presence of normal amounts of oxygen; however, they do not need a complete lack of oxygen. Although C. perfringens is not the most dangerous of the spore-forming bacteria, it grows the fastest so it is a good indicator of food safety and is often used as the target organism during stabilization to demonstrate growth of all spore-formers including C. botulinum is limited to acceptable levels.

Traditionally, the approach to control of C. perfringens type A gastroenteritis centered on inhibiting the multiplication of the organism in food. The most practical way of preventing C. perfringens gastroenteritis appears to be by preparing meat and poultry dishes shortly before they are served, and by adequate cooling, refrigeration, and reheating of cooked products.

What are Stabilization performance standards or targets for Clostridia growth?

CFIA & FSIS recommend that establishments allow no more than a 1-log10 multiplication of C. perfringens within the product and no multiplication of toxigenic microorganisms such as C. botulinum. These guidelines are applicable to:

  • RTE cooked beef, RTE roast beef, RTE cooked corned beef
  • RTE uncured beef patties
  • RTE cooked poultry
  • Other RTE meat products
  • N-RTE partially cooked and char-marked meat patties, and partially cooked poultry breakfast strips
  • Other NRTE, heat treated not fully cooked products

Our validation services only uses the most rugged, high-accuracy instruments currently available. We closely monitor the different factors required to achieve an adequate cooling cycle as well as provide recommendations to increase product throughput. Our equipment provides real-time feedback to ensure issues can be corrected even before the cooling cycle has ended. We also use validated predictive modelling tools, such as ComBase to analyze special or borderline cases.

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This includes identification of ‘warm-spots’ relative to cooler / chiller setup (i.e., positioning of fan units) and loading practices.

Further analysis is conducted for ‘borderline’ processes that may require computer modelling, by taking into account product composition

(i.e., use of anti-microbials, food additives, preservatives, etc.)

Daniel Dorigiola

Co-Owner / QA Manager – Venetian Meat and Salami Co. Ltd., Hamilton, Ontario

“We have used the services from Quantum Food Solutions for a number of years to help us manage our written food safety program and validate our food safety controls (e.g., cooking, cooling, fermented/dry-cured products). We are very pleased with their practical approach to resolving issues and finding opportunities for process improvement. We certainly appreciate the high level of service they continue to provide our company and highly recommend their services”.

Pawel Zwerello

HACCP Coordinator, Sikorski Sausages, London, Ontario

“Renzo is very knowledgeable in Food Sciences, and we hired him as a process authority to help us approve a custom process, which received ‘no objection’ from CFIA. Renzo works in an efficient, professional and timely manner. We look forward to working with Renzo in the future, and have no reservations on recommending him to others looking to improve their processes and take their Food Safety to the next level. Thanks Quantum!”

Marius Kamerbeek

Plant Manager, Erie Meats, Listowel, Ontario

“We manufacture cooked meat and poultry products at our federal facility. We hired Quantum to evaluate our cooking processes including our smokehouses and spiral oven. We appreciate their high quality of service that has enabled us to comply with CFIA and FSIS requirements. We certainly recommend their services.”

Pete Holowachuk

Quality Manager, Winkler Meats Ltd., Winkler, Manitoba.

“We are a CFIA inspected plant certificated to the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety. Renzo came to us highly recommended and we have contracted him on multiple occasions to validate our cooking and chilling processes. He uses a practical approach and specialized tools that allow him to provide a fairly comprehensive service. We look forward to working with him again and definitely recommend him to anyone looking for a robust, yet affordable food safety service.”

Stefan Cartmale

General Manager, Bright Cheese Ltd., Bright, Ontario.

“Thank you Quantum for all of the work to help us attain BRC certification. It has been one of the most rewarding achievements of my lifetime and I am so proud that we were able to achieve the BRC AA rating! By doing so, it has opened many new doors for us and also enable us to expand and continue to grow our business. We definitely recommend Quantum’s food safety services.”

Ramon Eberle

Plant Manager, Stonetown Artisan Cheese Ltd., St. Marys, Ontario.

This is to acknowledge that Renzo Gomez from Quantum Food Solutions facilitated the
installation of a solid HACCP plan, which allowed us to reach our goal of becoming federally licensed with CFIA. Thanks to our upgraded food safety standards, we were able to get in to business with Farm Boy and sell our product in new markets outside of Ontario. His service is affordably priced, very streamlined and his communication is honest and straight forward. It was a pleasure to work with Renzo Gomez and we are looking forward to work with him again in the future”

Julia Banton

Vice President of Operations, Kitchen Partners Limited, Edmonton, Alberta.

“Renzo has a wealth of knowledge, whilst maintaining a logical and common sense outlook to the tasks ahead. His approach is unique to that of other consultants I have worked with, in that he is pragmatic and makes light work of global codes/standards. We definitely look forward to continuing to work together and highly recommend Quantum to anyone looking to upgrade their food safety and quality systems.”

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