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Looking for something in legislation regarding thawing butter?


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#1 schnitzelman

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 02:25 AM

I noticed this morning the new baker left about 7 sticks of butter on the counter to thaw until she started her shift later that night. Obviously I put the butter back in the cooler and left her a note saying we can't thaw butter at room temperature (certainly not for ~12 hours).

 

Other than the packaging which states to keep it refrigerated, I could not find anything in the legislation regarding a safe procedure for leaving butter out so it is soft enough to work with.

 

Also, I'm aware the water activity of butter is so low there isn't a good chance that pathogenic growth will occur. 


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#2 johntstuart

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 07:51 PM

I am more familiar with American laws than I am Canadian, but in the FDA Food Code it gives times limits on things like thawing and cooling.  Perhaps the CFIA has something similar?  

 

My recommendation is a 4-hour time limit.

 

The FDA Food Code 3-501.13 (B)(4), states that potentially hazardous foods should not be held above 5 degrees Celsius for more than 4 hours, including the time needed to cool the food back down.


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#3 Slab

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Posted 10 July 2016 - 04:44 PM

Hi, schnitzelman;

 

 

You may find the following information from the FDA's "Evaluation and Definition of Potentially Hazardous Foods" helpful. When there is a lack of substantial regulation to reference for guidance a solid scientific risk assessment should be conducted. Given the low Aw, pasteurization, and possible acidification of some butters, this risk is minimal. However you could determine your own safety limits with microbial shelf trials under refrigeration and ambient temperatures. 

 

Here are some excerpts: 

 

3.3. Butter
Example 1

Product:  Salted butter.  The product is not held hot or cold for safety.  However, during commercial handling, storage, and distribution product is held at low temperatures for quality reasons.  The ingredients of the product are cream and salt.  The product is intended to be stored at ambient temperature.  Microbiological hazards:  S. aureus, L. monocytogenes.  There is no history of safety problems when the consumer does not control time/temperature control of commercial salted butter.

Step 1.  Processing:  Pasteurization of cream.  No heat applied after butter is churned.

Go to Table B.

Table:  pH 5.41 and  a0.897.

Step 2.  Decision:  Product may be a TCS food.

Product Assessment:  Product characteristics prevent L. monocytogenes growth.  Predictive model (p 8-3) suggests that holding the product for hours at ambient temperature is safe.

Decision:  Challenge testing, predictive microbial model, reformulation to decrease aw, refrigerate (TCS food), store hot (TCS food), or at ambient temperature for a limited time less than the estimated lag phase for the pathogens of concern, or product is not marketable.

 

 

 

Example 2

Product:  Salted butter.  The product is not held hot or cold for safety.  However, during commercial handling, storage, and distribution product is held at low temperatures for quality reasons.  The ingredients of the product are cream and salt.  The product is intended to be stored at ambient temperature.  Microbiological hazards:  S. aureus, L. monocytogenes.  There is no history of safety problems when the consumer does not control time/temperature control of commercial salted butter.

Step 1.  Processing:  Pasteurization of cream.  Acidified by fermentation.  No heat applied after butter is churned. Go to Table B.

Table:  pH 4.25 and a0.897.

Step 2.  Decision:  Product is a Non-TCS food.

 

 

 

Attached File  Evaluation and Definition of Potentially Hazardous Foods.pdf   488.1KB   20 downloads

 

This continues for an additional 7 examples for the various forms of butter.

 

Here is the full chapter

 


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#4 schnitzelman

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 03:32 AM

Wow - thanks guys, great information. Now just out of sheer curiosity I will do a shelf life test and a quick swab of some butter :)

 

johntstuart - interestingly enough, according to BC (British Columbia) food safe, our limits are to have perishable food out for no more than 2 hours above 4°C


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