|Happy Christmas from the SDT
Another year ends and 2016 is just around the corner. What has the year been like for us as a Society? Well, we have had six events, ten newsletters, one new book in the Technical Series, attended Nantwich International Cheese Awards (ICA), launched a new award with the ICA for the Top Student Dairy Technologist and contributed nine articles to Dairy Industries International. No wonder it has seemed rather busy!
In this bulletin, you can read a report on the Autumn Symposium on Food Safety, read about the Dairy Council's Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses and see what the Society organised for our new Eden Foundation Degree students.
And finally, a little smile for Christmas - scroll down to the bottom of the page...
Current Food Safety Issues and Solutions
Over 80 delegates registered for this year's Autumn Symposium held at Askham Bryan College, our highest attendance in recent years. The format for the Autumn Symposium appears to be popular and the topic of Food Safety is always attractive to members and non-members alike. Feedback on the event was outstanding and it was pleasing that delegates gave us some suggestions for future topics. All of the papers are available on the members area of the website, for which you will need to log in to the secure area. I would like to thank all of those who assisted in the smooth running of the event and in particular, Andrew Wilbey, who is our resident photographer and reporter. His report on the event is available in the December edition of Dairy Industries International and is reprinted here.
The first paper was presented by Justine Wadge of RSJ Regulatory Solutions and discussed the importance of developing a positive culture, involving all those in an organisation. The benefits of clear communication and positive reinforcement were emphasised, aiming for a process of constant improvement rather than just a certification culture. Overall this should provide a net economic benefit to the company.
John Holah of Holchem Laboratories reviewed characteristics of the listeria genus and infections caused by pathogenic species. Though Listeria spp. account for a relatively small proportion of reported food poisoning incidents, the lethality, at over 15%, is much higher than for other causes. Those most at risk are the immuno-compromised, pregnant women, young children and the elderly. A five-point control plan to minimise the risk was proposed, comprising prevention of entry, restricting harbourage and growth, reduction of cross-contamination vectors, killing or removal of the organisms and prevention of recontamination. The need for teamwork and senior management support was emphasised.
The relationship between Escherichia coli and food safety was discussed by Phil Voysey of Campden BRI. Though many strains are harmless commensals, some are pathogenic and the presence of E. coli in food or water is taken as an indicator of a hygiene problem and possibly faecal contamination. The six groups of pathogenic strains were then discussed in more detail, outlining the characteristics of their attachment and damage to the gut wall plus some effects of their toxins. Infective doses of some strains can be low, possibly even below 10 organisms per gram, though the organisms are easily destroyed by mild heat treatments such as pasteurisation. Most dairy-related E. coli incidents in the UK have been related to consumption of raw milk or where the pasteurised milk has been contaminated by raw milk due to a processing failure.
Dr Phil Voysey explains some of the clinical features of VTEC
Nils Jacob Haaning of Bactoforce and Peter Pritchard of Magnaflux took a more engineering-based approach to the prevention and localisation of microbiological food safety risks caused by defects in food processing equipment. They emphasised the importance of hygienic design and construction of process plant as prerequisites to hygienic processing, with industry standards still evolving. Maintenance of satisfactory hygienic standards in process plant requires inspection, for instance crack detection in tanks and heat exchanger plates, followed by appropriate remedial action. Effectiveness of the cleaning regime can also be monitored by checks for organic residues and/or biofilms. Appropriate documentation of the checks will allow optimisation of planned maintenance and the identification of systemic faults in plant.
The final presentation was given by Andy Carr from Foss, on tools for protecting the supply chain. Food adulteration problems are world-wide and these have contributed to the development of a Threat Analysis Critical Control Points (TACCP) approach to complement the widely-used HACCP system. In the dairy industry the concerns apply particularly to raw milk and the need for rapid testing procedures prior to acceptance of a delivery into the dairy. While historically the most common adulterant was water, the much wider range of potential adulterants (including melamine in China) now require far more sophisticated and rapid analytical techniques such as Fourier-transfer infra-red (FTIR) spectrometry. Subjecting the data from FTIR spectra to principal components analysis aids identification of adulterated milk as well as reducing the incidence of a false positive. The same techniques can also be applied to intermediates and final products, for instance to assure freedom from contamination by cleaning solutions. Larger dairies can also benefit from rapid microbiological analysis, providing total bacterial and somatic cell counts on raw milk deliveries.
Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses
I was lucky enough to represent the Society at the recent Ceremony of the Christmas Cheeses at the Royal Chelsea Hospital. The event is a very historic one, going back to 1692 and the Dairy Council has been involved for 55 years. The ceremonial cheese, a Montgomery Cheddar, was cut by In-Pensioner Derek Waters, BEM, using the ceremonial sword.
Study tour for Eden students
The 2015 cohort of Eden students at Reaseheath College undertook a two day study tour of dairy companies in Wales on 14th and 15th October. The twenty students and two staff, plus a year 2 student mentor, were accompanied by Council member, Dr Ian Gordon, and visited Arla Foods Llandyrnog Creamery, Volac International at Felinfach and the Carmarthenshire Cheese Company. As ever, the companies put on an excellent tour enabling the group to see Cheddar cheese manufacture, whey processing and specialist cheese production.
This is an annual event hosted by the Society for the students and we are always grateful for the fantastic support of our industry.
Have a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous and Peaceful New Year. Just a smile for Christmas, I love this card...
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