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Raw Meats and Poultry,Control of Microorganisms during Processing

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What are Microorganisms?
Living cells too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Types of concern for foods are bacteria (spoilage and pathogens), fungi (molds and yeast), viruses



Viruses need a host, i.e. cannot live by themselves


Viruses can come from the air from coughs and sneezes, from hands (not washed adequately after using the toilet), from hair and sometimes from contaminated water supplies.



PEOPLE are the source in production

Examples include:


Norwalk Like Viruses



Fungi include yeasts and molds


Yeasts are larger than molds and single-celled


Some molds are very dangerous e.g. aflatoxin on peanuts is carcinogenic


Some molds can grow in the freezer


Not a major issue in raw meats and poultry


Bacteria  The Enemy
Spoilers versus pathogens Vs

Raw meat targets for control are the spoilers.


Total bacteria count is to be controlled


Sources of bacteria include People, Product and Environment



Spoilage organisms use the product protein for food and create off odors and slime


Shelf life is the amount of time that it takes for the microbial load to multiply to spoilage numbers



If the load is small to start, it takes longer to divide to spoilage numbers than if the load is already high.



Bacteria Growth Control
If no kill step exists in the process, limiting the growth of the bacteria is the control point.


Room temperatures must be maintained to avoid the growth of organisms or the time the product dwells must be limited.



Product temperatures should be maintained at less than 4C during processing to avoid significant growth


Pathogen growth can be controlled by keeping temperatures below the minimum growth requirement, or by limiting the dwell time in the production.



Minimum Growth Temperatures (Centigrade) for Pathogens
       Clostridium botulinum    3.3 or 10

       Listeria monocytogenes          -0.4

       Yersinia enterocolitica    -1.3

    Escherichia coli O157:H7            7-8

       Vibrio vulnificus           8

Salmonella sp.            7

How quickly do Bacteria grow?
Bacterial growth in raw meats is temperature dependent


In general, the higher the temperature, the faster the growth. For example, at -2C, every 24 hours, but at 4C every 6 hours. The growth is logarithmic.


At 12C, growth can be every hour 12C

Environmental Sources

Effective Sanitation activities must be completed so that equipment is clean to begin production and does not contribute to the microbial load of subsequent product.


Operational Sanitation must be maintained to avoid increasing the microbial load on the product. When floors are rinsed during production, avoid spraying water from the floor/drains onto the processing equipment.


Environmental Sources

Bacteria from product can be deposited on production surfaces and should be routinely removed (belt washes)


Facilities must be maintained to avoid harborages  caulked areas complete


Belts must be replaced if integrity is damaged to avoid harborage of bacteria and molds


Condensation must be avoided to prevent ceiling material from contacting product


Environmental Sources
Sanitary design of equipment is necessary to avoid areas where product can get out of flow


Sanitary design of equipment is necessary to avoid areas that cannot be cleaned and allow product to remain


Product transfers along the process can be areas where product gets caught and delays in flow.


Environmental Sources

Pests must be excluded from the production area.

Insects carry pathogens (any and all)  over 20 human disease causing bacteria have been isolated from flies



Flying insect electrocutors should be avoided. Insects explode when electrocuted and spread parts and bacteria as far away as 5 meters


People Sources

Bacteria from people can be deposited on product and should be avoided by use of gloves, sleeves, aprons and other barrier devices.



Hand washing procedures must be strictly followed

Associates with illness should NOT handle product (bacteria and viruses)


People Sources

GMPs must be strictly followed and must include the requirement that only designated people can touch floor product


Uniforms must be provided to avoid contamination from street clothes


Sneezing and coughing must be controlled


Since human hands are very difficult to complete disinfect, gloves should be worn to handle product


Procedure Sources

Keep product moving through the process


Avoid removing product from flow


When inspection procedures include removal of product to stationary work stations, potential exists for delay. As more product flows to inspector, the tendency is to inspect off the top of the pile of meat. The bottom product can remain for many hours and increase in temperature.


Control  Easy!

Temperature, temperature, temperature


Keep initial load small (limit the age and temperature of incoming raw materials)


Keep product moving to avoid temperature increases

Maintain sanitary conditions of environment and people



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