Five common process validation mistakes
By Mark Naylor – 1 December 2016
Process validation is the collection and evaluation of data to establish that a process is capable of consistently delivering safe product. If a product or process is not properly validated, it could lead to unsafe product and potential financial losses.
Although many of the common process validation mistakes in this post are specific to thermal process validations, much of the information is also applicable in other forms of validation work.
A fresh look at microbial contamination
By Phil Voysey - 24 November 2016
One of my early experiences as a food microbiologist was a visit I paid to a bread bakery that was having problems with a salmon-pink-coloured mould growing on their product. While the pink mould was very distinctive on the bread, the company was unable to identify the source of the problem in the bakery. I took a look around the production area and quickly spotted the source of the mould - the normally cream-coloured slicer comb had taken on a pink-coloured tint. Because the 'pink transition' had been slow, no-one had noticed the colour change. Analysis of the mould samples back in our labs identified Chrysonilia sitophila as the culprit. We gave advice on how best to clean the slicer comb and the problem was resolved.
Leafy salads – modelling ways to prevent attachment of pathogens
Project blog – 18 November 2016
A new study highlights the importance of careful handling of leafy salads during production, harvesting, packing and distribution to help minimise food safety risks from microbes such as Salmonella.
Like other foods produced in the open, leafy salad can from time-to-time pick up microbes that cause food poisoning. Producers take stringent measures to minimise the risk of this, and Salmonella outbreaks associated with them are low – averaging around 1 per year across the EU from 2004-12. However, as with all food-borne pathogens, continued vigilance is important.
Aseptic processing - process and hygiene
By Philip Richardson - 7 November 2016
The aim of aseptic processing is to produce a sterile product through heat processing. In contrast to canning, the product and the packaging are sterilised separately and the package is filled under carefully controlled aseptic conditions.
The product is sterilised continuously as it travels though a heating pipe. Because the product needs to flow through the pipe easily, aseptic processing is only suitable for liquids or suspensions with small solids, like soups.
Meat testing – ensuring quality and safety
By Liz Mulvey - 12 October 2016
Testing of meat and meat products can be used to assess quality, safety, performance and compliance with prescribed standards, both external and internal, and legislation. When a quality assurance programme is developed, all the factors in the chain that affect meat quality must be identified, and control and validation methods established. Additionally, testing may be required to comply with accreditation schemes such as the BRC Global Standard, retailer standards and legislation.
By Nick Byrd – 4 October 2016
The European Commission is intending to propose maximum levels for ergot alkaloids in unprocessed grain in 2017. Ergot is the name given to the sclerotia of the fungus Claviceps purpurea, which is widespread and infects many cereals, including wheat, rye, barley and oats, and the related Claviceps fusiformis, which infects millet. Ergots are hard, dark tuber-like bodies which are visible to the naked eye and produce mycotoxins. The sclerotia are harvested together with the cereals and can lead to contamination of cereal-based food and feed products with ergot alkaloids.
Analytical methods - using GC-MS to assess wine quality
By Geoff Taylor – 21 September 2016
Since I began working in the UK wine industry in 1976, I have tested and advised on tens of thousands of wine samples. The world wine industry is currently going through a very innovative phase at virtually all stages, from grape through to the consumer. This includes using different fermentation techniques and yeast strains as well as different approaches to ageing, wood treatment, transport and storage. All of these factors impact on the flavour and quality of the wine.
Pasteurisation of novel alcoholic beverages – striking the right balance
By Chris Rice – 19 September 2016
Contamination of beer by spoilage micro-organisms remains a considerable challenge for the brewing industry. Traditional beers are susceptible to contamination by several types of spoilage microorganism. According to the scientific literature, approximately 70% of beer spoilage cases result from contamination by lactic-acid bacteria, which produce flavours considered to be undesirable in most beer styles. The remaining spoilage cases are caused by a range of wild yeasts, as well as aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, that are present in the brewery environment and can carry-over to the beer if rigorous hygiene is not maintained. Happily for beer drinkers, harmful pathogens are not able to grow in beer due to several microbiological ‘hurdles’ such as alcohol, low pH, low nutrient content and the presence of growth inhibitors such as hop acids.
Calling Time: Dynamic Sensory Methods
By Peter Burgess – 14 September 2016
Food and beverage product reformulation and development, especially that linked to 'Health & Wellness', should take into consideration not only consumer taste acceptability but also in-mouth texture and physiological effects such as feelings of fullness and digestive comfort, and importantly emotional rewards attached to the consumption experience.
The challenge of NPD
By Alan Campbell – 23 August 2016
Competition in the global food and drink industry is intense. Successful businesses need to innovate and introduce new products that are appealing, safe and produced at a cost that the consumer is willing to pay - if they are to stay ahead of the competition and meet consumers’ increasingly discerning and exacting requirements. New product development (NPD) requires significant investment. Seventy percent of those surveyed in the Food Manufacture State of the UK Food and Drink Manufacturing Sector 2016 said that their company planned to invest more in NPD this year.
Meat snacks product development
By Liz Mulvey - 16 August 2016
Snack foods are convenient and enjoyed on the go. Traditionally seen as small portions eaten out with meal times, they may also be incorporated into the main meal, especially lunch, providing opportunities for the meat industry to penetrate this popular sector. Although often bought on impulse, many snacks are bought as a planned purchase and there is a place for both indulgent and healthy options, but key to the success of any new product is understanding and addressing the consumer need.
Training Matters ‐ Future of Training
By Bertrand Emond - 5 August 2016
VUCA doesn't sound very nice... but it is a great way of describing the world we live in: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous! This means that a critical success factor for businesses and for individuals is their ability to learn new knowledge and skills quickly and to apply them effectively. One of my favourite training quotes is from Zig Ziglar:
"The only thing worse than training good employees and losing them, is not training your employees and keeping them"
Fresh produce decontamination
By Linda Everis - 27 June 2016
In recent years, the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables has increased, largely due to advice on healthy eating and because exotic varieties of both are available year round. Few doubt that the increased consumption is beneficial to the consumer. Microbiologically though, there are some real challenges to the production of fresh produce.
Integrating the Packaging and Product Experience in Food and Beverages
By Peter Burgess – 17 June 2016
Packaging is so much more than just a means of getting products safely to consumers. It is also a highly effective and visible platform to convey both brand values and key marketing messages. It also differentiates products from the competition and influences consumers’ trial and repeat purchase decisions.
Checking processes work
09 June 2016
Validation of processes is an essential part of the manufacturing of food and drink. It confirms that a process meets the requirements for a specific intended use - that is, that it is fit for purpose.
Validating the effectiveness of processes which reduce the target microbiological population is crucial to producing a safe product and is important throughout the whole food and drink chain - from growers and chemical producers to equipment suppliers and food manufacturers.
Mathematical Modelling - Get a slice of the action!
By Mark Naylor – 23 May 2016
Have you ever considered using mathematical modelling to simulate your own process?
As more companies in the food and drink industry are turning to mathematical modelling to develop and optimise their processes, knowing the advantages and pitfalls of this technology is becoming increasingly important.
A model is used to describe how a system works. This system could represent anything from the entire universe down to a single plant cell, but for today it represents a cake in the oven.
Japan – a gateway to Asia
By Asako Nagata – 5 May 2016
Choosing the right market when exporting food is an exciting yet challenging task. Potential trade barriers, market trends, and competition with local products are just some of the factors that can work for or against you.
The third largest economy and second largest food market in the world, Japan has a heavily food focused culture. Known for its discerning taste, what's popular in Japan often goes on to be successful in other Asian countries – that's one of the reasons it's sometimes said to be the gateway to Asia.
Challenges in microbiological identification
By Julie Archer – 26 April 2016
Julie Archer, Microbiologist discusses some of the common issues and challenges in microbiological identification and the sophisticated DNA-based methods being used at Campden BRI to help food and drink companies.
Introduction to the China National Food Safety Standard for Uses of Food Additives
By Xiangwen He – 14 March 2016
The food safety incidents that have occurred in China in recent years have led to increasing international media scrutiny and have damaged the reputation of Chinese products, not only in domestic markets but also in foreign markets. The major causes for these incidents have been identified as being the results of the illegal use of food additives. In order to strictly regulate the use of food additives and food flavourings and re-build the confidence of consumers, China has now streamlined its food supervisory system. There are currently three main competent agencies responsible for supervision of additives: The National Health and Family Planning Committee of China (NHFPC), which takes responsibility for reviewing the safety of new food additives and formulating food safety standards for food additives; The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA), which is responsible for the supervision of the production and circulation of food additives; and The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China (AQSIQ), which takes charge of the inspection and quarantining of imported and exported food additives.
In pursuit of baked-product quality
By Gary Tucker – 3 February 2016
The word ‘quality’ means different things to different people, but on the whole, when it comes to buying baked goods, consumers tend to talk about appearance, smell and how ‘fresh’ they perceive the product to be. The consumer is the ultimate judge of quality of baked goods.
Quality is a word that is often used by food manufacturers to entice consumers into buying their products. But the very nature of baked goods and their limited shelf-life means that bakers need to have a thorough understanding of the key factors that influence the quality of their output.
Food Safety Modernization Act: changing rules for food businesses exporting to the US
By Steve Spice - 19 January 2016
The key concepts that exist in US food regulation are those of adulteration and misbranding, essentially making sure that neither is food contaminated nor its packaging misleading.To European eyes until relatively recently quite a number of the key US pieces of food law could look quite dated.
For adulteration some parts of the original 1906 Federal Meat Inspection Act still apply and elsewhere for misbranding there is the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act 1938 with important amendments for food additives in 1958 and for colour additives in 1960.