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Help needed - coleslaw going brown before end of shelf life


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#1 Bawdy01

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 08:29 PM

Hi,

 

I am hoping somebody here may be able to assist me. We have been producing coleslaw (shredded cabbage, onion and carrot in a mayonnaise type dressing) for many years without issue. But lately we have been getting lots of issues with the coleslaw going grey and or brown before the end of the shelf life.

 

It normally has a 9 day shelf life and a review of our retentions shows that the product can normally go beyond this. The product is produced in a chilled environment, (6-7 degrees) then held in chilled storage. I do not think temperature abuse is an issue as there have been multiple complaints form multiple distribution arms/runs.

 

A review of our records cannot find that we are doing anything different.

 

Has anybody else here ever experienced this or could offer some additional ideas on where to look?

 

Regards,

Bawdy.



#2 Snookie

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 09:09 PM

Are you selling it as a kit?  I would think 9 days a very reasonable shelf life as a kit. 

 

My experience with mayo ingredients is very limited, but usually other dressings (oil based) can be quite long.

 

Have worked with slaw mixes extensively, and we used to routinely get 14+ days (we did not put onions in our mix, but had tons of them in the plant) with good quality fresh ingredients (salad mix only).  Shelf life will vary based on what happened in the field such as too much rain etc.  Pictures would be helpful as the type and location of discoloration can tell you a lot about the problem.  Once we had a problem with the discoloration on the cut edges.  Once we sharpened and/or replaced blades, adjusted cut speed, the problem went away. 

 

A bit more information might help solve the challenge.


Edited by Snookie, 13 March 2014 - 09:11 PM.

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#3 Bawdy01

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Posted 13 March 2014 - 10:07 PM

Hi Snookie,

 

thanks for the reply, I will try to get a photo as you suggest. The product is a premixed coleslaw, we dice shred the veggies, then blend them with the dressing. The dressing is oil based, but has a very low pH, the final pH of the dressed slaw is typically around 3.8-4.0.

 

The product is packed in a plastic tub with a foil lid, sold at various take aways etc. I thought we had the problem beat as we could source some of the issue to cabbage grown during very hot conditions, but we have since moved to using cabbage that was not grown during this time but the issue remains.

 

Bawdy



#4 Charles.C

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Posted 14 March 2014 - 03:33 PM

Dear Ba/Sn,

 

9 days, 14+ days.

 

Blimey ! :sorcerer:

 

Sounds like an interesting microbiological (quality?safety?) validation.

 

I always thought the fast food operators made it day-by-day ?

 

Maybe better not to know. :closedeyes:

 

Rgds / Charles.C


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#5 Snookie

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 03:35 PM

Dear Ba/Sn,

 

9 days, 14+ days.

 

Blimey ! :sorcerer:

 

Sounds like an interesting microbiological (quality?safety?) validation.

 

I always thought the fast food operators made it day-by-day ?

 

Maybe better not to know. :closedeyes:

 

Rgds / Charles.C

 

 

While my experience is without dressing, cabbage mixes can have a very long shelf life (for a plant).  Most of what I worked was designed to be put with the dressing on the day it is to be served. 


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#6 sozcan

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 03:44 PM

Do you use any preservatives? Antioxidants?



#7 Snookie

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 05:39 PM

Do you use any preservatives? Antioxidants?

 

 

Nope...


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#8 sozcan

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 06:11 PM

Hi,

 

I am hoping somebody here may be able to assist me. We have been producing coleslaw (shredded cabbage, onion and carrot in a mayonnaise type dressing) for many years without issue. But lately we have been getting lots of issues with the coleslaw going grey and or brown before the end of the shelf life.

 

It normally has a 9 day shelf life and a review of our retentions shows that the product can normally go beyond this. The product is produced in a chilled environment, (6-7 degrees) then held in chilled storage. I do not think temperature abuse is an issue as there have been multiple complaints form multiple distribution arms/runs.

 

A review of our records cannot find that we are doing anything different.

 

Has anybody else here ever experienced this or could offer some additional ideas on where to look?

 

Regards,

Bawdy.

We have similar problems when our supplier switches the crops or the cabbages are close to the end of their season. Due to water loss during storage, enzymatic reactions might be accelerated and you can end up with brown/gray cabbage. I suggest using an antioxidant. Please see attached doc.

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#9 sozcan

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 06:34 PM

Don't forget to check with your supplier for any deviation...



#10 Shyguy77

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 07:51 PM

We have similar problems when our supplier switches the crops or the cabbages are close to the end of their season. Due to water loss during storage, enzymatic reactions might be accelerated and you can end up with brown/gray cabbage. I suggest using an antioxidant. Please see attached doc.


I would agree with szcn's above post. Although i dont work with cabbage, i have known citric acid to be used for color retention on other vegetables such as Potatoes to keep them from going brown.

#11 Bawdy01

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 08:32 PM

Hi Charles,

 

Our micro work shows that the product is very safe out to 9 days, the vegetables are diced then washed in a chlorine wash bath before being blended with the dressing. The dressing is very thick and has a low pH usually around 3-3.2, so micro control is pretty good. the product is manufactured in a chilled environment and the product is kept refrigerated of its entire shelf life. My results typically show that the micro counts are the highest on the day of production, and they just drop off from there, talking TPC counts here.

 

SZCN - I initially was blaming the cabbage as well, we have just had a very hot and dry summer and the cabbage used was reaching maturity during this time, so I was expecting that with the newer seasons crop, we would have seen an end to the issue, but it has not. The dressing we use does already contain citric acid, so I would have expected this to aid in the colour retention.

 

So unless the supplier had some older cabbage kicking around that they have sent in to us again, I am at a loss to know where to go.

 

I am now trialling cabbage washed at different temps to see if the temperature of the washing water is having an impact, I have one trial where the wash water was at 0.1 degrees, and another at 5 degrees, still a week or so away from seeing if this makes a difference. I am thinking that the excessive cold could be causing some cell structure damage which could result in faster breakdown.

 

Would love to know what anybody else thinks about this.

 

Bawdy.



#12 Snookie

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 10:37 PM

Have you looked at your seals and OTR on the foil?   Have any ingredients changed on your dressing? 


Edited by Snookie, 20 March 2014 - 10:38 PM.

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#13 Bawdy01

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Posted 20 March 2014 - 11:16 PM

Hi Snookie,

 

Thanks for making me kick myself, I had not thought to check the OTR of the foil, assumed this was staying the same, same supplier etc. But definitely worth the look.

Will also ask about the tubs. Many thanks.

Dressing has not changed, been down that path already.

 

Bawdy.






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