Uncooked And Unpasteurized Foods
Quantum Food Solutions offers consultancy services for food processors making uncooked and unpasteurized foods. This category includes foods known to occasionally contain low levels of L. monocytogenes and do not have a kill step, as well as ready-to-eat refrigerated foods that have a shelf-life of ≤ 5 days. Examples of uncooked and unpasteurized foods include cold-smoked salmon, fresh-cut produce, fresh salads, fresh fruit juices.
The rationale for these products is that these products would be handled under reasonably foreseeable conditions of distribution. The stated shelf life, storage and use would be enough time for L. monocytogenes to grow to levels above 100 CFU/g before the durable life date shown as a “best before” date on the package.
These products are classified as Category 2A under Health Canada’s Listeria Policy on Ready-To-Eat foods. For these foods, processors should have food safety consultants validate and verify their processes to make sure that the levels of L. monocytogenes are consistently equal to or less than 100 CFU/g throughout the stated shelf-life.
Important Validation Concerns For Uncooked Food Products
Some of the most critical validation considerations are product characteristics, also known as growth factors (i.e. pH and Aw-value). It is important for a food processor to clearly understand what organisms are likely to survive and grow based on the characteristics of the finished product. In many cases, either the pH, the Aw-value, or a combination of the two factors may already offer some degree of food protection. However, this does not preclude the need to incorporate possible abuse conditions during consumer use as part of the initial validation study.
Given that contaminants may be introduced from a variety of sources (e.g. inadequate sanitation practices, insufficient employee hygiene, high microbial loads from other untreated raw materials such as spices, unsuitable processing environment, absence of antimicrobial agents, etc.) a product monitoring system and regular comprehensive risk assessments are necessary.
Even though Category 2A products are expected not to exceed 100 CFU/g throughout the product's shelf life, your facility should include additional control measures as part of the formulation process. These include using antimicrobials (e.g., sodium lactate as a Listeria inhibitor), and irradiating raw materials whenever possible.
Quantum Food Solutions Benefits
Uncooked and unpasteurized foods need very rigorous and scientifically-validated processes. Each control measure put in place to address the potential hazards is an essential part of your food safety system, keeping consumers safe and satisfied with your product. Quality food safety consultants will help you put this hazard-avoidance system into practice and show you areas where you can save money.
Quantum Food Solutions' validation and safety consultancy services depend on the most rugged, highest-accuracy instruments currently available. We closely monitor the different factors required to attain and maintain an adequate level of food protection. Our team is also trained to use validated predictive modelling tools such as ComBase, allowing them to effectively increase the level of food safety of your products.