I'm producing a small number of coconut cream yoghurt and am interested to better understand the risk of any harmful bacteria forming during my production process since I want to make sure my process is absolutely safe and I have all necessary precautions in place.
I have no background in food science or microbiology and would much appreciate any guidance from anyone more educated in these fields than myself.
Here are the ingredients I'm using:
- Pasteurised Coconut Cream
- Raw Organic Honey
- Dairy free Acidophilus & Bifiobacterium
The ingredients get all mixed in a big pot heated to approx. 40 degrees, then filled into jars (new ones) to then incubate for approx. 12h
What is the risk of any harmful bacteria arising during this process?
The risk of harmful bacteria is very high, you could potentially become a serial killer!
When yoghurt is made you are incubating the yoghurt base at an idea growth temperature for pathogenic organisms.
Here is a list of the Top 14 Foodborne Pathogens according to the FDA. I would say it would be possible for most of these to end up in your yoghurt with the exception of the Vibrio types.
Commercially produced yoghurt base is normally pasteurized before the inoculation with the starter culture (acidophilus & Bifiobacterium in your case). This step is to remove pathogenic bacteria from the yoghurt base.
So for the process you propose as per Charles post the quality of raw materials would be important. Also your hygienic practices and cleanliness of the equipment you use.
As yoghurt is an acidic product (low pH) most pathogens do not grow/survive in it. One of the major concerns with yoghurt manufacture is contamination with Staphylococcus aureus.
Although Staphylococcus aureus is not always pathogenic, it is a common cause of skin infections (e.g. boils), respiratory disease (e.g. sinusitis), and food poisoning.
Staphylococcus aureus produces an enterotoxin that is not destroyed in the acidification of the yoghurt base and can cause food poisoning. The way to control this is to prevent contamination and to ensure that the yoghurt acidifies quickly in incubation to a pH of less than 4.6.
As you are proposing to add honey to the coconut cream and then incubate I thought I would warn you about the dangers of this:
However, honey sometimes contains dormant endospores of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, which can be dangerous to infants, as the endospores can transform into toxin-producing bacteria in infants' immature intestinal tracts, leading to illness and even death.
Clostridium botulinum bacteria grows on food and produces toxins that, when ingested, cause paralysis.
So you are planning to incubate an ingredient (raw honey), a known source of Clostridium Botulinum which causes Foodborne botulism at more or less an ideal temperature for toxin production!
If I was making this product I would do the following:
Hot water disinfect my equipment,jars,lids and utensils before use
Heat the coconut cream to minimum of 80 °C for a minimum of half a minute in a pot then allow to cool to 40 °C
Add your starter cultures (acidophilus & Bifiobacterium), mix thoroughly and hold at 40 °C (incubate) until it sets and reaches a pH of 4.5 or less
Add your honey and blend the two together
Check the pH again. Honey is normally acidic so it should still be below pH 4.5 but if it is higher than 4.5 then you may need to add something like citric acid or lemon juice to reduce the pH
Transfer to your hot water disinfected jars seal and put in the refrigerator to cool.
You should log your incubation temperatures, times and pH to create a typical profile. You will then be able to recognize when something is not right such as the pH dropping too slowly/incubation taking too long.
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