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Mold on Raw Ingredient Packaging

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#1 SFarmsNH


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Posted 12 December 2019 - 06:01 PM

Hi All, 


We just noticed that an entire pallet of nonfat dried milk powder (40 lb. bags) has been dripped on by a leaking roof and the outside of the bags has what appears to be mold spots all over them.  The bags are lined with plastic, so it is possible that the actual powder is not in contact with the mold.  


This ingredient is added to a batch of milk, then pasteurized before packaging the finished product.  


The pallet has been placed on hold until we can assess the situation.  My initial reaction is not to use any of it, however I am getting pushback from management to salvage as much as possible.  How would you handle this?  


Thanks in advance for your advice!



#2 vsg


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Posted 12 December 2019 - 07:18 PM

Hello Sarah,

                   First and Foremost get the roof fixed. 


Mold presence indicates that the bags have been wet for while, but in any case, seems like the management is willing to risk (salvage the powder). Even though the bags are lined with plastic, do you have permeability standard of that plastic in the bag. Maybe the supplier or the manufacturer can help you on this. If they say that the plastic liner is impermeable to water/moisture then you have assurance that water didn't go in. 


Maybe, just maybe these are my initial thoughts;


Remove top most layer of bags which show obvious mold and discard. 

When and if the powder is used, get the powder tested, and then of course the final/finished product. 


That's all I can think of right now, hope it helps somewhat. Best peace of mind would only come from not using the powder, but maybe these and other things you can do will help. 



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#3 FurFarmandFork


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Posted 16 December 2019 - 06:26 PM

Ditto VSG, obviously contaminated bags are an issue because we're not really worried about the mold...it's the potential bird fecal material in the roof drippings.


The mold has actually helped you out in that you can easily identify bags that will not be acceptable. Inspect each one and segregate any obviously dripped on ones, then for good measure dust off the remainder. Toss the gross bags.


It's funny how roof leaks are 100% unacceptable in our homes, but in industry warehouses we seem to assume it's part of the deal.

Austin Bouck
Owner/Consultant at Fur, Farm, and Fork.
Consulting for companies needing effective, lean food safety systems and solutions.

Subscribe to the blog at furfarmandfork.com for food safety research, insights, and analysis.

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#4 Ryan M.

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Posted 17 December 2019 - 12:06 AM

I would be wary of using any of the bags.  Sure...they NFDM is "protected" by the packaging, but how do you handle the bags when adding them as an ingredient?  You can very easily transfer that to the batch and/or equipment when adding the NFDM.


Additionally, molds can produce toxins which are NOT removed by pasteurization.  Mold spores are difficult to remove by pasteurization unless you are sterilizing the milk.


Is it really worth the risk?  I understand there's a cost to the material, but maybe put the potential cost of contamination back onto upper management giving you push back.


And yeah...get the roof fixed, or at least provide some type of segregation in storage so further exposure is not an issue.

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#5 wtheriot


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Posted 17 December 2019 - 06:52 PM

Do your research on bird droppings and Salmonella. It is quite possible you have birds that roost on your roof and the water that dripped is contaminated. The risk is high. handling of the segregated product needs to be limited and monitored. Touching the bags and then walking onto the production floor is a bad idea. The mold would be the least concern, since you know its present already. Its what you dont see that could cause you problems down the way. I would definitely do some swab tests as a precaution before any more handling or dispostion is made.

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#6 TimG


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Posted 17 December 2019 - 09:10 PM

Hey, SFarm. All of the above are great options. Some will help you feel better about not going with your initial gut reaction (discarding all affected material). However, in a similar situation where a backed up storm drain splashed roof water runoff all over super-sacks (all with plastic liner) of product at a previous position, I had a bad gut feeling that told me that if we used that product something bad was going to happen. I was also directed to salvage as much as possible (see, all). I ended up taking the following approach:

  • Quarantined all affected until disposition could be made (typical company procedure in most instances)
  • Listed out some hazards and known sources of salmonella in food product
  • Took pictures of bird activity on the roof (seagulls are protected under local fish and game)
  • Compiled information on the PCA incident (info I had at the time pointed to a leaking roof as probable point of entry for salmonella)
  • Sent all of this info by email to owner and food safety team along with my misgivings on using any affected product
  • Called a meeting with owner and food safety team (mostly management) to review all of the above and let the team come to an agreement on final disposition

It was amazing once we discussed the recommended life sentence of Stewart Parnell (he was not yet sentenced at that time) how quickly everyone agreed it wasn't worth the risk associated with using the product.


Don't let anyone coerce you into doing something you aren't comfortable with. If you feel there is unacceptable risk, please convey this to your team. The Quality Manager in that PCA also faced charges, but was proven to have actively worked to hide information.

Edited by tgoss11, 17 December 2019 - 09:11 PM.

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#7 Hoosiersmoker


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Posted 18 December 2019 - 02:31 PM

Agree with the above. If the bottom line is so important to them, why would they risk losing the company over a few hundred dollars of product? Fix the issue and go on knowing it won't happen again. The real value is in the prevention of future issues. Ask how they feel about insurance, that's what they're buying with the cost of the discarded product.

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