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Any ideas on the cause of swollen frozen breaded poultry products reported by customers?

spoilage; poultry; non vacuum package; frozen poultry;

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#1 Heffer03

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Posted 09 July 2020 - 11:14 PM

Hello 

 

I'm not sure if this topic goes with the Food Microbiology category. But right I'm out of ideas, so any input would be very appreciated. 

 

I work in a plant where frozen breaded poultry products are produce with no vacuum package. A couple of months ago, we starting receiving complaints about blown package from several customers. That is a first for me, I would not expect this kind of spoilage in a frozen product. 

 

The product is not sensory altered, it doesn't seem like it was thawed (I can't be 100% sure about this), but usually when the product is thawed the breaded coating starts to detached. No off-flavor, off-smells...nothing. But my gut keeps telling me that this is related to temperature abuse. 

 

The package has no micro-perforations.

 

We have tested some swollen packages and lactic acid bacteria and psychotropic counts are under 4 log10. Is there any chance this could be microbiological? Should we test for other indicator? 

 

Any other probable cause for  swollen package spoilage in frozen products?

 

Thanks! 



#2 Charles.C

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 03:06 AM

Hello 

 

I'm not sure if this topic goes with the Food Microbiology category. But right I'm out of ideas, so any input would be very appreciated. 

 

I work in a plant where frozen breaded poultry products are produce with no vacuum package. A couple of months ago, we starting receiving complaints about blown package from several customers. That is a first for me, I would not expect this kind of spoilage in a frozen product. 

 

The product is not sensory altered, it doesn't seem like it was thawed (I can't be 100% sure about this), but usually when the product is thawed the breaded coating starts to detached. No off-flavor, off-smells...nothing. But my gut keeps telling me that this is related to temperature abuse. 

 

The package has no micro-perforations.

 

We have tested some swollen packages and lactic acid bacteria and psychotropic counts are under 4 log10. Is there any chance this could be microbiological? Should we test for other indicator? 

 

Any other probable cause for  swollen package spoilage in frozen products?

 

Thanks! 

 

Supplied from a 3rd party Distributor's Storage ?

 

Time elapsed from your Delivery ?

 

Product was (reliably) shipped/delivered frozen ca -18degC  by you ?. Temp. Records ?

 

Bacteria are definitely not active at -18degC.

 

Chemical actions possible ?

 

Overpack ?

 

Same Production Code ? (Own QC records  OK ?

 

Offhand yr gut looks a good indicator to me.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#3 SQFconsultant

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 11:52 AM

I'd go with what Charles said and wanted to ask - where are you in Costa Rica?

 

Costa Rica is our second home country - just can't get back right now.

 

We were planning on relocating to La Cruz area.


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Glenn Oster
 
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#4 Heffer03

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 05:47 PM

Supplied from a 3rd party Distributor's Storage ?

 

Time elapsed from your Delivery ?

 

Product was (reliably) shipped/delivered frozen ca -18degC  by you ?. Temp. Records ?

 

Bacteria are definitely not active at -18degC.

 

Chemical actions possible ?

 

Overpack ?

 

Same Production Code ? (Own QC records  OK ?

 

Offhand yr gut looks a good indicator to me.

 

Thanks Charles!

 

The product is held in our distribution center and from there goes to supermarkets or small clients. From our delivery, takes on average 45 days to detect the swollen package. 
 
Usually, the client reports just 2-3 swollen packages within a delivery (less 1% of the delivery). The problem has been detected by different customers across the country at the same time with same production batch. And the QC record of those lots are OK. Weights are OK (no overpack).

 

What puzzles me is that if it's bacteria growing when the abuse of temperature starts, that no other type change is noticeable (no slime formation, no off-odor, no color change). I would expected some level of deterioration besides gas production only... :headhurts:



#5 Heffer03

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 05:53 PM

I'd go with what Charles said and wanted to ask - where are you in Costa Rica?

 

Costa Rica is our second home country - just can't get back right now.

 

We were planning on relocating to La Cruz area.

 

Great to hear that Glen! I'm in the Central Valley. But great choice (La Cruz), real close to all the beautiful locations.  :gleam:



#6 Charles.C

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Posted 10 July 2020 - 11:11 PM

Thanks Charles!

 

The product is held in our distribution center and from there goes to supermarkets or small clients. From our delivery, takes on average 45 days to detect the swollen package. 
 
Usually, the client reports just 2-3 swollen packages within a delivery (less 1% of the delivery). The problem has been detected by different customers across the country at the same time with same production batch. And the QC record of those lots are OK. Weights are OK (no overpack).

 

What puzzles me is that if it's bacteria growing when the abuse of temperature starts, that no other type change is noticeable (no slime formation, no off-odor, no color change). I would expected some level of deterioration besides gas production only... :headhurts:

 

Don't quite understand how the "same batch" has more than one lot ?

 

I presume this product is like nuggets, eg IQF and NRTE

 

I also presume - 

 

no signs of ice in bag,

appearance same as product in non-swollen bags.

taste is normal.

seals are still intact.

bags have plenty free space, ie not undersized for the declared net weight, this can cause problems IMEX.

 

Might try some micro (at least  2 samples) on swollen and compare with the non-swollen (at least 2 samples), eg APC (mesophilic), E.coli,  S.aureus,Salmonella


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


#7 Karenconstable

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Posted 16 July 2020 - 03:31 AM

Is there too much air in the bags when they are sealed? 

 

If they are sealed at -18 degrees with a little air, then when a customer puts it in a freezer that's at -5 degrees the air would expand.  The extra volume of headspace will make the bags look swollen without any spoilage at all.

 

(I used to work for a potato crisp manufacturer who had to seal bags with less headspace if they were being distributed into high altitude areas or onto aeroplanes for this reason.) 



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#8 Charles.C

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Posted 16 July 2020 - 05:46 AM

Is there too much air in the bags when they are sealed? 

 

If they are sealed at -18 degrees with a little air, then when a customer puts it in a freezer that's at -5 degrees the air would expand.  The extra volume of headspace will make the bags look swollen without any spoilage at all.

 

(I used to work for a potato crisp manufacturer who had to seal bags with less headspace if they were being distributed into high altitude areas or onto aeroplanes for this reason.) 

Hi Karen,

 

The packaging line worked at -18degC ? Astonishing !

 

Looks like a suitable case for OSHA.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C





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