I'm a QA/Reg Compliance Manager at a small USDA facility that processes raw beef and poultry. This is my first time posting, though i've been using this forum a lot over the past few months as I am relatively new to the food industry (spent the first 8 yrs or so after college working as an infectious disease biologist and decided I wanted to try something new and thought, hey, why not food??). I've found this forum to be extremely helpful, and i'm so glad to have found a community of people that are passionate about food safety and quality.
As of now, we only process raw products, however we have been in the process of developing a RTE chicken breast. We are a fairly small facility so we have opted to contract out the cooking and processing (HPP) to another company. Presumably, the product would be returned to us after processing, sealed in a vacuum type package and we would finish back here by placing the packaged product in an outer cardboard sleeve. Has anyone had any experience with this kind of situation? I do have some RTE experience, however we cooked sliced and packaged all in the same facility so I am used to pretty stringent sanitation, monitoring procedures etc.
My main concern is that the RTE packaging area will have to share the same room as our Raw Beef processing room. Our current solution is to hang a large tarp in between the areas and then implement entry/exit requirements, designated handwash stations, color codes, disinfectant at barrier contact points etc. I guess my question is, would this product be considered fairly high risk, even though the actual product has already received lethality treatment and sealed before it even comes back to us? Should we be monitoring FCS more than weekly or bi-monthly? How often should we be testing the product (in addition to whatever testing procedures the processing plant performs)? Of course as QA I like to err on the side of caution but i don't want to spend money on excessive testing if we don't have to. Just wondering if anyone has any experience in a special case like this, as the USDA directives don't really have specific guidelines for my particular situation :)
anyways, sorry for the length of the post, I look forward to being an active member at IFSQN!