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What action to take if freezer malfunction has caused slight defrosting of product?

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EJ2020

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 10:15 AM

Hi all, 

 

We have a freezer that malfunctioned and the temperature increased for a period of time. The freezer is being repaired and all product has been removed to be put through a blast freezer and moved into another functioning storage freezer. The temperature did not go above 0C but it did not meet the critical limit of -18C for a period of time. If there is a way to salvage this product by blast freezing it, I'm sure the company will want to do that. However, I'm wondering if it's acceptable to do that or what can I do to validate that the product is safe to consume? I'm new to the company so I'm trying to get my facts right before dumping any product! 

 

Thanks!



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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:14 AM

Good morning;

 

What food safety issue has occurred? Is this a regulatory or an agreed limit?

 

Certainly I see a quality issue more so for IQF goods, but not a food safety one.


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EJ2020

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:22 AM

Freezing temperatures is one of our CCPs. The food regulatory website in Ireland states the following:

 

Freezing

Q. What is the correct temperature for my freezer?

Freezers should be maintained at -18°C or colder in food businesses. Ice cream can be stored at -12°C in food service areas. The temperature in domestic ice boxes can vary from -6°C to -18°C, depending on the star rating. But remember, the warmer the temperature, the shorter the shelf life of the frozen food. If a freezer is located in a warm area of a premises, the temperature should be lower, as required.

Q. Can I refreeze food that has been already thawed?

No, only freeze food once. When food is defrosted, bacteria can multiply. If this is frozen again the amount of bacteria could be at a dangerous level.

Our product contains baked egg and fresh cream fillings. I'm concerned that the thawing out and refreezing will cause issues - I'm looking for advice on if I can validate this in any way.

Good morning;

 

What food safety issue has occurred? Is this a regulatory or an agreed limit?

 

Certainly I see a quality issue more so for IQF goods, but not a food safety one.



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Posted 04 August 2020 - 11:53 AM

That would seem a terrible waste.

 

How lockstep are the Irish food police with language? In US law, should is guidance, shall is compulsory.

 

No, only freeze food once. When food is defrosted, bacteria can multiply

 

 

This is a dubious claim. Clearly you can demonstrate with temperature monitoring activities that temperatures did not exceed 0 deg C, and that scientific studies show pathogenic growth is nil at temps less than 0 deg C (mostly)? 

 

If this is a CCP under your food safety plan then you should have listed corrective actions? I suppose when the sun has set all you have to go by are those HACCP plans, and in most instances these are legally binding. Perhaps you can apply for a variance with the proper authorities to salvage the inventory in some less than wasteful manner.


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SQFconsultant

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 02:20 PM

 I go to this part of your statement first....

 

"...but it did not meet the critical limit of -18C for a period of time."

 

My question is, based on this - what does the company's own policy/procedure state.


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trubertq

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Posted 04 August 2020 - 03:32 PM

The best way to go about this is to re-freeze and then assess the product micro-biologically and organoleptically.

 

It is more likely that de frosting will cause quality deterioration rather than a food safety issue, a lot depends on the format of the product, small items will defrost more quickly then large items.

 

When you say the temperature went up to 0 degrees, but was this the air temperature or the product temperature? If the doors of the blast/Cold store weren't opened during the breakdown the likelihood is that the temperature of the product did not rise by the same amount.

 

Make sure the senior management to have all relevant information and then it is up to them to decide whether they dispatch the product or not.

 

This issue should of course be covered in the crisis management procedure.

 

Hope all goes well for you


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Posted 05 August 2020 - 08:24 AM

You didn't mention the length of time/product temperatures involved. ? L.mono. can grow at 0degC albeit slow.

 

Regardless, looks like a simple initial question - did defrosting occur or not ?

 

If yes (eg see thread title) and Q2 does apply, seems unfortunately to be the Regulatory end of the  "story".


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C




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