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Is condensation dripping on thawing dough a food safety risk?

Condensation Dough Racks

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#1 Xoinks


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Posted 08 June 2018 - 09:14 PM

Thanks in advance for the insights!


We are a small bakery, and our dough needs to be aged for several days prior to baking.  We accomplish this by freezing the dough by putting the dough sheets on metal pans and loading them into rolling racks.  When we take them out of the freezer  and into the cooler to thaw, the metal pans sweat (get condensation) and drip onto the top of the sheet of dough below it.  The dough is used within 18 hours of coming out of the freezer, and within 1 hour of being removed from the cooler.  


Obviously we know that this isn't ideal, but this is also a situation in which we have 30-40 slabs of dough per rack and many, many racks we run per day - so managing this by wiping off the condensation isn't feasible.  


The pans that we load them on are cleaned prior to using them, so the condensation is forming on a clean surface.


The dough is an active yeast dough (So there is competitive inhibition as far as staph growth/toxin formation).   Once used on the line, it is fully baked.   


Our consultant suggested doing some sort of risk assessment/justification for the condensation in this process, but he didn't have a strong micro background so he wasn't really sure how to go about it.  


I don't believe that this is a true food safety risk, but I don't know how to go about proving it.   


Any thoughts ?  Thanks in advance! 

#2 MIguel A. Rodriguez

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Posted 08 June 2018 - 11:38 PM

Questions: temperature of cooler?, do you have data on microbial growth on those pans during and after cooling?, do you have data on microbial growth of dough during and after cooling?. I think you can demonstrate based on microbiological analysis that your actual process don't implies a significant risk. https://www.ncbi.nlm.../pubmed/9440284

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#3 Xoinks


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Posted 09 June 2018 - 01:44 AM

Thank you!


Cooler is maintained between 32F - 40F. 


We currently do not have microbial growth data - I'd like to design a study but I'm struggling to understand the best way to go about it.  Perhaps swabs of the pans (Where condensation would form) at time of removal from freezer then right before use?  APC and coliforms, or would there be a better suggestion for indicator organisms? 

#4 Scampi



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Posted 11 June 2018 - 01:22 PM

APC and coliform is a great place to start, given a bakery, you may want to include generic e coli. The other things you may add is to swab not only the pans, but the racks as well PRIOR TO USING to verify that they are actually clean before you use them


Unless you can PROVE the condensation is microbe free, you will continue to have an issue from audits


We got a minor for condensation over SEALED product last year


You may also want to swab tables where the pans may go and even though your finished product is baked, you may still want an accredited lab to verify the lack of microbes post bake


The real problem is any microbial growth that is then spread everywhere from the condensation


Also, does your cooler have air movement in it?  Sometimes just keeping the air moving is enough to prevent the moisture from forming in the first place

Because we always have is never an appropriate response!

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#5 Gerard H.

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Posted 12 June 2018 - 08:15 AM

Dear Xoinks,


Another possibility is to redesign your process, to obtain more beautiful products. Aren't you seeing the drops on the finished product?


Not knowing the product, the freezing step implicates a lot of extra handling. From an external point of view, the ageing step is done to inactivate some yeast activity, to bake the product more regularly. However, the same effect can maybe obtained by optmizing your dosages.


You can even invite some raw materials supplier technicians to help you with this project. It may cost some money, but if you can skip the freezing step, you will benefit largely. Furthermore, your condensation problem, with all extra side-effects, as mold growing in your environment and humidity will be solved at the same time.


I hope it gives you some ideas.


Kind regards,


Gerard Heerkens

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