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Varying TPC count in Spices!


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#1 navas

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Posted 05 November 2017 - 11:23 AM

Hi everyone,
I am working as a Microbiologist in a spices and flavors company. I am new here and getting a varying TPC count in Spices that makes my manager unsatisfied and says the result is very unacceptable. I tried to convince him the Microbiological situation of raw spices and its dynamic nature but he still says the result is illogical..
Is it my understanding is correct in the following matters:
1. Raw spices will carry Microbes in a very varying ranges in relation to various factors like harvesting area, time, condition, and many other environmental factors.
2. Storage time, state and area will affect the count in the material dramatically.
3. The acceptable limit of Microbial count in Spices when referring to major standards is 10^6..

I really wish if someone could guide me through...

Thanks you in advance

-Navas



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#2 Charles.C

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 04:32 AM

Hi everyone,
I am working as a Microbiologist in a spices and flavors company. I am new here and getting a varying TPC count in Spices that makes my manager unsatisfied and says the result is very unacceptable. I tried to convince him the Microbiological situation of raw spices and its dynamic nature but he still says the result is illogical..
Is it my understanding is correct in the following matters:
1. Raw spices will carry Microbes in a very varying ranges in relation to various factors like harvesting area, time, condition, and many other environmental factors.
2. Storage time, state and area will affect the count in the material dramatically.
3. The acceptable limit of Microbial count in Spices when referring to major standards is 10^6..

I really wish if someone could guide me through...

Thanks you in advance

-Navas



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Hi Navas,

 

Why does yr manager think the result is unacceptable /  illogical ?

 

Perhaps you could supply some actual data ?


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Charles.C


#3 Charles.C

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 04:36 AM

addendum

 

If you wish to illustrate the possible variations in spice micro. data can maybe use this document -

 

Attached File  Spice microbiological profiles.pdf   136.68KB   26 downloads


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#4 navas

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 05:39 AM

Hi Navas,

Why does yr manager think the result is unacceptable / illogical ?

Perhaps you could supply some actual data ?

Hi Charles..
I tried my maximum to convince him. Perhaps it is because he hadn't that much studied about it. He is very concerning when 40000 to 50000 variation occurs in raw spices like black pepper. He say "repeat" and he expect the same result which is never possible in case of a Microbial analysis as you may know .A clear cut result when repeat is what he expects. He ask me to improve my method and the way I do the procedure..
Anyways, thank you Charles



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#5 navas

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Posted 06 November 2017 - 06:13 AM

addendum

If you wish to illustrate the possible variations in spice micro. data can maybe use this document -

attachicon.gifSpice microbiological profiles.pdf

Thank you for the input, Charles
I will try to convince him with this..

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#6 Ted S

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Posted 11 November 2017 - 03:06 PM

Good Morning. I have an extensive background in the US spice industry, and depending on the "quality" of the spice being tested, seeing SPC values in excess of 1,000,000 col/gram is not unrealistic (for the dirtiest version). Spice quality is not only dictated by growing conditions, but also on the type of "treatment" that the spice might receive. With Black Pepper, for example, due to the fact that this pepper is dried in the sun on tarps and exposed to the elements (birds flying overhead during drying, etc...), microbiological counts will be quite high on the raw pepper once dried. But if this same pepper is treated with ethylene oxide or steam sterilization, the counts will be much lower. For an even clean black pepper, many food companies purchase pepper that has been irradiated. With irradiated black pepper, Pathogens = 0 and APC values can fall below 100,000 col/gm. Keep in mind though that the above three treatments mentioned are allowed in the US but might be prohibited in your country. In addition, the treatment only provides a certain micro log reduction. If the raw pepper is high in micro due to a very wet growing season, for example, the above treatments will only be able to improve micro to a certain amount. If your goal is to use a pepper in a product that must have low micro, you then need to buy a "low bac" version of the black pepper (which will cost more that a higher bac version from the same ingredient supplier). Hope this helps. 


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#7 navas

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 09:32 AM

Good Morning. I have an extensive background in the US spice industry, and depending on the "quality" of the spice being tested, seeing SPC values in excess of 1,000,000 col/gram is not unrealistic (for the dirtiest version). Spice quality is not only dictated by growing conditions, but also on the type of "treatment" that the spice might receive. With Black Pepper, for example, due to the fact that this pepper is dried in the sun on tarps and exposed to the elements (birds flying overhead during drying, etc...), microbiological counts will be quite high on the raw pepper once dried. But if this same pepper is treated with ethylene oxide or steam sterilization, the counts will be much lower. For an even clean black pepper, many food companies purchase pepper that has been irradiated. With irradiated black pepper, Pathogens = 0 and APC values can fall below 100,000 col/gm. Keep in mind though that the above three treatments mentioned are allowed in the US but might be prohibited in your country. In addition, the treatment only provides a certain micro log reduction. If the raw pepper is high in micro due to a very wet growing season, for example, the above treatments will only be able to improve micro to a certain amount. If your goal is to use a pepper in a product that must have low micro, you then need to buy a "low bac" version of the black pepper (which will cost more that a higher bac version from the same ingredient supplier). Hope this helps.

Thank you very much, Ted..
I was in a dilemma ever since after I joined this Company (it's been 4 months now). The previous technician who argued me he was getting, for eg. In Black pepper, TPC 2,50,000 around since 6 years and he is my Superior now (he is a food science guy) .
But when I started, it's now, as you said around a Million and it made him to say 'repeat' repeatedly and asked me to improve my do-s.
Ted, do we have a Microbial specification document or something that published by FDA or any other organizations that mentions these microbial limits in Spices to show my managers? I think ASTA has one. But my manager is not that much concerning regarding a rethink over it and so that I don't think he would pay $300 to download it
Appreciate your reply, Ted.
As you have an extensive experience in Spices, I wish to accept your your guidance..
Thank you again

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#8 Charles.C

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 10:23 AM

Hi navas,

Here is a quote from an old (ca 1986) respected reference (attached below). I suspect the situation now is not so different -

 

 

 

In  the  first  edition  of  this  book  (p.115)  sampling  plans  and  microbiological limits were suggested for spices and gums. In retrospect, it is felt  that  these  recommendations  were  inappropriate.  A  considerable portion of these commodities in international commerce would not meet the suggested  limits;  furthermore,  failure  to  meet  the  limits  might  or might not have borne a relationship to food quality or safety.

 

It is now our recommendation that spices and gums be treated as raw agriculture commodities. Accordingly, the ultimate use of such products will be the determinant. A spice or gum which is unsatisfactory for one purpose  may  be  quite  adequate  for  another.  For  example,  black  pepper containing  large  numbers  of  aerobic  spore-forming  bacteria  may  cause spoilage when used as an ingredient in canned foods or cooked sausage, but it could be used as a condiment on the table for  seasoning  cooked  foods.  A  manufacturer  using  spices  and  gums must determine  whether  the  microbiological  quality  of  these  products is  satisfactory  for  the  use  intended  (NCA,  1968).  If  it  is  not,  his  alternatives  are  to  seek  another  source  or  to  render  the  available  product satisfactory.  Treatment  with  ethylene  oxide  has  been  practised  extensively for many years but there is some concern over its continued use. Gamma-irradiation  may  be  an  effective  alternative  provided  flavours are not impaired.

 

In commercial practice the microbial and colour problems, and to some extent variability,  are  overcome  by  using  extracts  of  the  spices. For convenience in use these are often diluted on a carrier such as salt or  a  finely  ground  cereal  (usually  rusk,  i.e.,  ground  non-sweetened biscuit). Another approach  is  to  use  microencapsulated  extracts  using gelatin or starch as the encapsulant. Use of these forms is increasing at the expense of ‘raw spices’.

 

Attached File  icmsf 2, pt2, 1986.pdf   802.97KB   6 downloads

(I am guessing but i anticipate that the limit M in first edition was 1 million).

 

You may find this current EU presentation interesting. -

 

https://www.cbi.eu/m...r-requirements/

 

The free Quality Minima file in above has this specimen micro spec. -

 

The product shall be free from microorganisms at such levels which may represent a hazard to health.
 
If the product is treated to reduce microbial loads before being imported into destination country the treatment will be such as to render/ensure the microbiological safety of consumers.
 
Specific requirements to be agreed between buyer and seller.

 

Hmmm.


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Charles.C


#9 navas

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 04:18 PM

Hi navas,
Here is a quote from an old (ca 1986) respected reference (attached below). I suspect the situation now is not so different -

attachicon.gificmsf 2, pt2, 1986.pdf
(I am guessing but i anticipate that the limit M in first edition was 1 million).

You may find this current EU presentation interesting. -

https://www.cbi.eu/m...r-requirements/

The free Quality Minima file in above has this specimen micro spec. -


Hmmm.

Thank you Charles..

This is a really worthy information and presentable also.
But, the link to that EU requirement file is not working for me.. a 404 error..
Can you send the link to inbox.
xxxx
Regards

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Edited by Charles.C, 13 November 2017 - 03:11 AM.
sorry to delete email, acts as spam magnet

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#10 Ted S

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Posted 12 November 2017 - 11:18 PM

Thank you very much, Ted..
I was in a dilemma ever since after I joined this Company (it's been 4 months now). The previous technician who argued me he was getting, for eg. In Black pepper, TPC 2,50,000 around since 6 years and he is my Superior now (he is a food science guy) .
But when I started, it's now, as you said around a Million and it made him to say 'repeat' repeatedly and asked me to improve my do-s.
Ted, do we have a Microbial specification document or something that published by FDA or any other organizations that mentions these microbial limits in Spices to show my managers? I think ASTA has one. But my manager is not that much concerning regarding a rethink over it and so that I don't think he would pay $300 to download it
Appreciate your reply, Ted.
As you have an extensive experience in Spices, I wish to accept your your guidance..
Thank you again

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I do not have any documents that say what the microbiological numbers for black pepper should be. You would be best to contact your black pepper supplier and ask them how the microbiological counts differ between different pepper qualities (and price) that they sell. It would be best to get this information directly from them since it can be different from supplier to supplier. Thank you.


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#11 Charles.C

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 03:16 AM

Thank you Charles..

This is a really worthy information and presentable also.
But, the link to that EU requirement file is not working for me.. a 404 error..
Can you send the link to inbox.
xxxx
Regards

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Hi navas,

 

Which link are you referencing, the one I posted seems working ok for me ? And also the "Quality Minima Document"  link.

 

Maybe try again.


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Charles.C


#12 Charles.C

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 03:57 AM

addendum

 

JFI i attach a, presumably, then representative Spice Specification issued ca. 2003 -

 

Attached File  ESA Sample Specification Herbs and Spices (2003).doc   97KB   3 downloads


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#13 navas

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 05:39 AM

addendum

JFI i attach a, presumably, then representative Spice Specification issued ca. 2003 -

attachicon.gifESA Sample Specification Herbs and Spices (2003).doc

Thank you very much, Charles..
I am gathering some supportive documents to convince my Superiors who are really unaware and misled by the inappropriate results they were receiving since a couple of years, which they are thinking the factual values. This is where I found some answers and I really appreciate your efforts.. now I can present these documents to them.

Thank you again, Charles.. Have a good time to you and expect you be there for future helps..

Regards
-Navas

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#14 navas

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 05:40 AM

Hi navas,

Which link are you referencing, the one I posted seems working ok for me ? And also the "Quality Minima Document" link.

Maybe try again.

Don't know what's the issue.. I am not getting the page.. no probs..

Thank you, though

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#15 Charles.C

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 05:51 AM

Don't know what's the issue.. I am not getting the page.. no probs..

Thank you, though

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Hi navas,

 

Pdf versions attached -

 

Attached File  spi1 - What EU requirements should spices or herbs comply with.pdf   909.9KB   3 downloads

Attached File  spi2 - Quality Minima 2015.pdf   276.26KB   3 downloads


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#16 navas

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Posted 13 November 2017 - 06:01 AM

Hi navas,

Pdf versions attached -

attachicon.gifspi1 - What EU requirements should spices or herbs comply with.pdf
attachicon.gifspi2 - Quality Minima 2015.pdf

These all it!
You don't know how thankful I am for this help, Charles..
All I can do is wish you a good time always..

Regards

Navas

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