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Thawing of Food SQF Ed 8.1 - 11.7.3 or Ed 9 11.7.2

Thaw Thawing Thawing of Food 11.7.3

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OrRedFood

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 05:43 PM

Hello All- I am looking for help with a thawing procedure for 5 gal buckets and drums of frozen fruits and vegetables (Puree, juice, concentrate, IQF) for use in a hot fill hold process.  I've looked through this forum and found a lot on meats, but not much on fruits and veg. meant for further processing. All our formulas are cooked to minimum 180F and we do not have to worry about the appearance of the fruit/veg after thawing, as it is cooked into a sauce and fruit identity is not an issue. We currently thaw by cold water and by refrigeration.  The cold states continuous cold water, which I'm having trouble with as we do not have a good set up or space for this. We thaw in cold water in sinks and check the water temperature regularly. What I need is an SOP.  Does anyone have anything I could adapt, or any suggestions on that to include or not include? TIA! Karen M. :)


pHruit

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Posted 15 July 2021 - 07:30 AM

I've always thawed this type of product in the chiller - pallets moved to the floor area and spread out a bit.

It's not such an issue with the buckets, but with bigger drums, particularly the purees and IQF, the time it takes to get the core thawed through can allow the outer edges to get warm enough to start having fermentation issues. Your thermal process may address the micro element of this, but not necessarily the organoleptic damage that can go with it.

You can get drum thawing jackets that are reasonably effective, but you'll need a lot of them if you want to use this approach on anything other than a few drums, and that won't be cheap.
TBH my preferred approach is a crusher, but that's even less cheap (and perhaps won't do the texture of your IQF any favours!).



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OrRedFood

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Posted 15 July 2021 - 03:44 PM

Thanks for your reply!  If you don't mind my asking, how do you manage the Food Safety aspect of the temperature of the outer portion of the containers as the inner portion is still frozen? 

 

Still trying to figure out if we are compliant by thawing buckets in a cold water bath that is not circulating and adding cold water and monitoring the cold water temp.  

 

:spoton:  



pHruit

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Posted 15 July 2021 - 04:55 PM

For the liquid products, these are all naturally acidic/low pH, and have been pasteurised or equivalent - the base micro content that might feasible grow is therefore primarily spoilage. I'd have thought you can reasonably demonstrate control of this via your raw material specs, as it's relatively "easy" to achieve 5-log for pathogens of concern in this type of product, as compared to achieving the same level of kill for yeasts/moulds.
Thawing in the chiller means the surface temperature stays below whatever your chiller temp is set to anyway, so it should stay comfortably out of the danger zone. If you wanted some extra cover for audit purposes then I'd also recommend asking your suppliers for their formal recommendation on how to thaw the relevant products. Higher-brix concentrates are still liquid at -18C, although not all pumps will cope with the viscosity at that temp, but it tends to be the NFC juices and purees that will give you the headaches.

 

The IQF is a more tricky question, as there is potentially a much higher incoming micro loading, and in the case of some fruits, no treatment that could really be called a kill step prior to the freezing process. Perhaps the question for these is: do you actually need to thaw them to use them?

 

As for  your cold water bath, this is where the recommendations of your supplier(s) may come in handy - that should give you written suggestions on times and temperatures, so it's then a case of showing that your process fits within this.

 

N.B. SQF isn't my forte, but I'd assume that the expectation is similar to BRC, in that you just have to show that what you're doing is considered and doesn't pose a food safety or quality risk...



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dzabhi

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Posted 15 July 2021 - 06:06 PM

We have similar processes in which we receive frozen processed veg in various formats. As part of the development and/or vendor assurance procedures that involve the procurement of new raw materials, we would conduct trials to ascertain how long it will take for the material to come up to temperature (0°C). This would be validated through temperature monitoring logs, calibrated probes, visual assessments, temperatures of chiller, etc.

This then becomes part of the production plan where (depending on the complexity of your forecasting/planning system) the raw materials will automatically be called upon X hours/days prior to production. Depending on the volume, this does require ample amount of holding space in your chillers.

 

I'm assuming your raw materials are heat treated and aseptically filled into pouches or other types of packaging and could even have pH levels of <4.4 which covers your listeria and clostridium controls. Maybe not your IQF raw materials but these should have at least gone through blanching process. Therefore, I would say the only risks are quality related and that should negate itself during your own further processing. 

I'm aware I made a few assumptions in the above but I hope it is some help nonetheless. 



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pHruit

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Posted 16 July 2021 - 09:47 AM

Maybe not your IQF raw materials but these should have at least gone through blanching process. Therefore, I would say the only risks are quality related and that should negate itself during your own further processing.

I'd definitely double-check this with the raw material suppliers, as for fruits it certainly isn't universal. More delicate fruits (e.g. raspberries, blackberries) sometimes don't even go through a basic wash or even rinse step, let alone anything that would achieve any sort of pathogen reduction.
 



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OrRedFood

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Posted 24 July 2021 - 12:38 AM

We do cook to 180 - 190 and hold sufficient to kill pathogens.  Thanks for all the help!  







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