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Applying the Food Safety Objective and Related Standards to Thermal Inactivation of Salmonella in Poultry Meat

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The objective of this study was to investigate the practicality of designing a heat treatment process in a food manufacturing operation for a product governed by a Food Safety Objective (FSO). Salmonella in cooked poultry meat was taken as the working example. Although there is no FSO for this product in current legislation, this may change in the (near) future. Four different process design calculations were explored by means of deterministic and probabilistic approaches to mathematical data handling and modeling. It was found that the probabilistic approach was a more objective, transparent, and quantifiable approach to establish the stringency of food safety management systems. It also allowed the introduction of specific prevalence rates. The key input analyzed in this study was the minimum time required for the heat treatment at a fixed temperature to produce a product that complied with the criterion for product safety, i.e., the FSO. By means of the four alternative process design calculations, the minimum time requirement at 70°C was established and ranged from 0.26 to 0.43 min. This is comparable to the U.S. regulation recommendations and significantly less than that of 2 min at 70°C used, for instance, in the United Kingdom regulation concerning vegetative microorganisms in ready-to-eat foods. However, the objective of this study was not to challenge existing regulations but to provide an illustration of how an FSO established by a competent authority can guide decisions on safe product and process designs in practical operation; it hopefully contributes to the collaborative work between regulators, academia, and industries that need to continue learning and gaining experience from each other in order to translate risk-based concepts such as the FSO into everyday operational practice.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, Unilever, Colworth Park, Sharnbrook, Bedford MK44 1LQ, UK

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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    The Journal of Food Protection (JFP) is a refereed monthly publication. Each issue contains scientific research and authoritative review articles reporting on a variety of topics in food science pertaining to food safety and quality. The Journal is internationally recognized as the leading publication in the field of food microbiology with a readership exceeding 11,000 scientists from 70 countries. The Journal of Food Protection is indexed in Index Medicus, Current Contents, BIOSIS, PubMed, Medline, and many others.

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