Proper sanitization is always a concern in the food industry, as foodborne pathogens often lurk and grow in hidden, hard-to-reach areas in processing environments. Food Manufacturing spoke with Tony Reed of Dow Microbial Control about the unique sanitization challenges food companies face and how ozone sanitation can help prevent microbial contamination.
Q: What factors make sanitation a challenge for food manufacturers?
A: There are a number of factors, and they differ depending on the nature of food being processed. Ready-to-eat (RTE) foods pose a particular challenge because they’re consumed directly and often not cooked before consumption. In the case of Listeria monocytogenes, this poses a risk, as this dangerous pathogen thrives in cool environments and has a tendency to stick around. As consumer demand grows for RTE meals, food manufacturers are increasingly concerned with the potential danger this poses and are looking for improved ways to control the risk of contamination.
Some food manufacturers also deal with issues related to recontamination, which can happen with E. coli in beef, Salmonella in poultry, and Listeria in fish, to name a few. Overcoming this challenge requires developing a robust hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) plan, with multiple interventions throughout the process, from farm to fork.
Another factor worth noting here is facility design. Newer food processing facilities are engineered around hygiene — that’s built into equipment design, workflow, traffic patterns and materials, with an effort on having fewer seams and hard-to-reach areas. Older facilities, however, may not have been designed with current state-of-the-art hygiene and food safety practices for prepared foods manufacturing in mind. Keeping these older facilities sanitized can be a big challenge.
To read the rest of the interview, click here.