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Mold in pizza sauces


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#1 Mr. Wallace

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 11:45 AM

Hello All, I am new to the website and hope I posted this topic in the correct section, if not I apologize in advance. We are currently having issues with mold forming on the top layer of our pizza sauces and can not figure out why this is happening. The sauces are mixed with final temperature of approximately 60 degrees F. The sauces are stored in plastic totes and covered with a plastic lid in our cooler. The sauces must be used in production in 7 days, however the mold is forming in about 5 days. We have tried covering the sauce with plastic film before we place the lid on the tote thinking that will help the situation, but unfortunately the mold still grows. The sauces are tested in the lab for pH,salt, and viscosity.Given my limited  knowledge of mold is it possible that  relative humidity is the deciding factor, or is there something with our storing process that is enabling the mold growth. Any advice will be well appreciated. thanks!  



#2 jdpaul

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 12:21 PM

Some things to answer and consider:

What is the relative humidity of the storage room?

What is the air quality in the storage room? Have you done microbiological testing through an air sampler?

What is the current microbiological testing results of a freshly produced tote of pizza sauce? Have you performed this?
What is the mold you are seeing? is it many different types of mold or only one certain mold? Have you identified the mold(s)?



#3 jdpaul

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 12:24 PM

Also, describe the process steps you take these raw materials through in order to create this pizza sauce.



#4 jdpaul

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 12:41 PM

Other things to consider,

 

What kind of sanitation verification methods do you have in place? Swabbing equipment and plating for micro results, ATP testing? What is your sanitation process?

What is the personnel hygiene of the batchers? Do perform monthly hand swabbing?

What is the air quality of the plant outside of the storage room?

Is the mold seasonal or is it year-round?



#5 Gerard H.

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 12:41 PM

Dear Mr. Wallace,

 

Even with the care you are taking, the pizza sauce, in combination with the processing & storage conditions, is an ideal environment for the molds to grow. And that's the reason why they grow out.

 

To avoid the outgrowth of the molds, you need to optimize your process. You have to be carefull, for when the pizzas go unbaked in a cool chain toward the customer. It's likely that there will be outgrowth also in that situation.

 

In case you bake the pizzas immediately after the sauce is dosed, than you can make a big step by reducing the internal shelf life of this semi-finished good (the sauce). And you have to eliminate the source of contamination.

 

Kind regards,

 

Gerard Heerkens



#6 Scampi

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 01:20 PM

My initial guess is that the original cooking temperature is not sufficient to kill mold spores that are in your sauce batch, and the sauce is not acidic enough to prevent the growth of air borne mold spores.  I would try a low boil (185F) then cover and cool (in smaller batches to cool faster) and see if that helps.

 

60F is going to help the mold get a good start

 

"Jun 23, 2008 - Mold spores thrive in temperatures 32 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures from about 70 – 90 degrees are the most conducive for mold growth. Chances of mold growth are heightened greatly between those temperatures."  https://moldblogger....-needs-to-grow/

 

 

What is your current finished pH?


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#7 dleon

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 02:31 PM

Hello,

In my opinion you'll need to look in two directions. One of them is where is the mold coming from, meaning that spores should be present and viable for it to grow. Second the reason why is developing, which conditions come together that make it possible. Molds are extremely versatile and resilient though.

As to where is the mold coming from could be from the environment, meaning that small amount is present in the preparation area(s)/equipment(s) or more likely coming from the field or suppliers(products or containers) and somehow manage to survive the preparation process to be present in your final product, the sauce.

For the reason why then is when it gets wide open and many conjectures could be made without more detailed information. The most common area would think is the moisture content inside the container "outside of the sauce" after closed and stored away. By this meaning on the container walls, lid inside and any water droplets falling back and sitting on top of the sauce.

Without knowing much of the details of your process I'll suggest to look into the packing temperature of the sauce, the container and the environment(room) where is done especially compared with the temperature of the storing unit that might be facilitating condensation after packing.

One very important thing is the temperature control through out the process of production. Making sure they are heated to adequate temperatures during production and preparations and that are always handled within appropriate time and temperature exposure. Placing the lid on a container with sauce at 60F and placing it into a cooling unit is bound to generate condensation.

One old time grandma tip might come in handy. In the times without refrigerators packing was done at high temperatures, just bellow boiling and a thin layer of oil would be poured covering the sauce surface, from tomato and the sort, to help prevent mold grow and spoilage in general. There is some scientific facts behind those method. The hot sauce would still be hot enough that anything in it, or that can fall on or be in the container will be sanitized by it and the thin layer of oil not only will starve from oxygen any pathogen that might have survived the high temperatures but also serve as a physical barrier between the sauce and environment.

Either making the sauce as cold as the storage unit where it is going to be stored before the packing or packing it hot without forgetting to control the storage unit temperature to avoid unsafe temperature ranges and changes.

Hoping this would be of help to you.

Saludos,



#8 Mr. Wallace

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 08:05 PM

Hello fellow IFSQN members and thank you for the fast informative responses and questions.

 

* environmental swaps and air tests are done on a regular basis with satisfactory results.

* currently we do not monitor relative humidity in any of our storage/production rroms

* I have not identified the mold but it is white in color

 

Gerald H- you make valid points and will have to look into our process

Scampi- I agree with your statements and believe that is what is causing the rapid mold growth. (pH of our sauces is between 4.2-4.6 for most)

dleon- valid points as well,with that said any recommendations on how to reduce the condensation.

 

Our sauce making process is quite simple, mix tomato paste and water. the water and final product temperature approximately 60 degrees F. As soon as the sauce is mixed 

and tested for viscosity, pH, salt content it it poured into the totes,plastic sheet placed over the tote, and a hard plastic lid placed on top of that. If this process causes condensation. any idea how to reduce 

the condensation?? thanks again!



#9 Scampi

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 08:16 PM

Perhaps an ice bath post heating is the easiest, safest, cheapest way to reduce the temp to prevent condensation

 

Product up to simmer

Cook for x minutes

reduce heat to maintain 185

Ladle out portions into bowls sitting in ice--stir til temp is below 40F-refrigerate immediately

 

Likely the plastic film/lids will be the source of the mold if you still had a problem after reaching and holding 185F------the only thing then left to try (if you don't like/can't get clean ice method above) is to sterilize the lids in a hot water bath.......if you're not using a chemical sanitizer when doing the dishes, the rinse water temperature alone probably isn't enough to destroy/inactivate the mold spores

 

Perhaps try adding lemon juice to acidify your sauce a bit....you'd have to do trial and error for taste profile

 

When i can pasta sauce at home i add 1 tsp of lemon juice to each 750 ml jar...can't taste it, but it lowers the pH for safety


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