Multi-Tools Approach for Food Safety Risk Management of Steam Meals

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Steamed meals comprise a new type of meal in which various raw ingredients are packed together and then cooked by the consumer just before consumption. The presence of raw ingredients and the absence of any inactivation step before home cooking could significantly impact the safety of these meals. In this study some of the many tools available to assess food safety were combined to determine the factors affecting the food safety of this new kind of meal. First the hazards were identified using Stepwise and Interactive Evaluation of Food Safety by an Expert System (SIEFE); then food safety objectives for various food pathogens were determined, and hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP), Risk Ranger, and predictive microbiology (gamma model) were used to determine the appropriate measures to meet the target set. Finally, links to the performance objective of the cooking stage are also proposed for Salmonella as it had the lowest food safety objectives. The SIEFE methodology excluded only Clostridium botulinum from the possible foodborne pathogens capable of causing foodborne illnesses from these meals, while use of HACCP and modelling demonstrated that cooking is the critical step in preparation of the meals. Risk Ranger was used to rank the possible pathogens: Salmonella and Campylobacter scores were the highest, Bacillus cereus the lowest. Risk Ranger was also used to assess the effect of the cooking stage on food safety and confirmed the importance of this process.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratory of Food Microbiology, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands 2: Laboratory of Food Microbiology, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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