The following text presents the recommended preventive controls for the heat treatment of commercially sterile low acid foods in hermetically sealed packages containers stored at room temperature. The safety of low-acid foods subjected to heat home disinfection service treatment depends mainly on four conditions:
- The programmed process is suitable for controlling Clostridium botulinum for the product and the treatment system.
- The product complies with the parameters of the scheduled treatment, and heat is applied to all parts of the product for a given time and at a temperature sufficient to give the product commercial sterility.
- The filling of the containers respects the parameters of the programmed treatment and the sealing of the containers prevents the introduction of microorganisms and the contamination of the sterilized product.
Handling methods after sterilization protects the seams against the risk of contamination or damage that may cause leaks or recontamination, until distribution to the consumer.
A temperature distribution test shows the location of the slowest heating point the “cold point” in the autoclave. This “cold spot” is taken into account during subsequent heat penetration tests to establish the scheduled treatment.
Perform temperature distribution tests on autoclave sterilization systems under the worst conditions of normal operation to verify the uniformity of temperature distribution throughout the autoclave and establish operating procedures such as purge protocol steam autoclaves.
An autoclave sterilization system could consist of a single autoclave or a group of autoclaves equipped in the same way. Refer to the temperature distribution test during a traditional static autoclave heat treatment for advice on the important elements to take into account when performing a temperature distribution test.
Perform these tests at the time of installation, after making any changes that could have a negative effect on heat transfer, and at a sufficient frequency, for example, every 2 to 3 years to ensure that wear equipment did not alter its performance.
A scheduled treatment is determined using heat penetration tests or other equivalent scientific methods by people who have knowledge and expertise skills in heat treatment, for example, an authority recognized in thermal process Footnote. These tests are performed under the worst conditions that can occur during normal production.
For each low acid food formulation, each type and size of the container, ensure that there is a written description of the scheduled treatment, including:
- The name of the treatment expert responsible for its development,
- The formulation of the food
- Specify all the ingredients and additives concentration, type and quantity,
- All critical factors and associated critical limits,
Accepted scientific methods used to establish scheduled processing such as microbial thermal dead time data, process calculations based on heat penetration data in the product, seeded packages, including details of the methods experimental. Never modify a scheduled treatment unless a treatment expert requests it.
Heat treatment design registers
Maintain a record of the determination of the scheduled treatment, including heat penetration tests and temperature distribution tests, if applicable.
Heat treatment equipment
Use heat treatment equipment designed, constructed, installed and maintained to meet the requirements of the scheduled treatment. For example, equip each autoclave with the following reliable devices:
- Independent temperature measuring device indicating thermometer,
- Time or temperature recording device to provide a permanent recording of the heat treatment as a function of time,
- Temperature regulator.
Take the necessary measures to prevent unauthorized adjustments to critical parameters of the equipment, for example by restricting access.