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Cooling of RTE Hot Soup

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Foodprep

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Posted 18 December 2021 - 08:17 PM

Greetings,

 

We produce cooked, RTE soups. We are having issues meeting our cooling requirements, mainly the first two hours are an issue from 54C to 27C. We can't get a bigger compressor at this time. Our soup gets hot filled and packed in pouches. We place hot pouches on baking trays and load the trays on racks. The racks are then transported to a small freezer. Due to spacing issues, we cannot spread out the pouches too much on the trays. We prefer not to use ice wands or water baths for cooling. The freezer is not able to handle the heat generated from the product. We cannot reschedule production either. The full batch needs to be done at the same time. 

 

Cooling is our CCP and we fail it more than we should. The best solution is a bigger freezer but that's not possible. From the failed lot, we send samples to the lab and our counts have been pretty good. I feel like I have looked at every possible solution but nothing fits our situation at this time. 

 

The reason for this post is to find out if there is anything else which could be done to solve this problem. Maybe something that I am missing? I thought of trying trays with holes instead of solid flat trays but not sure if that will help much. 

 

Thanks,

K



Charles.C

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Posted 20 December 2021 - 07:41 AM

Sounds like a static freezer.

 

A question of air velocity ?

(theory IIRC = f [air flow-surface speed, thickness, conductivity, temp.difference])


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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Posted 20 December 2021 - 02:15 PM

I agree with Charles, you need to change to a blast freezer........this may be less expensive that a new compressor 

 

 

Or, temporarily, can you use dry ice?

 

Trays with holes probably isn't going to speed the cooling enough to get you within your time/temp requirements

 

If you cannot consistently meet your CCP requirements, then you need to put your foot down and tell them something has to change, and spending money at the lab all the time isn't the answer (particularly since one of the big ones was hit with a data breach and still isn't taking samples at all)

 

You could reevaluate the CCP and see if there is any flexibility there

 

Regular freezers are not designed to reduce the temperature of product rapidly so this isn't going to change until you change your process


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kfromNE

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Posted 20 December 2021 - 04:15 PM

I agree with the above. For our soups, we use a blast freezer and/or water bath. We do have a cooker that can cook and then chill items. We use this cooker for sauces and cooling them down. Another potential option.



Foodprep

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Posted 20 December 2021 - 07:05 PM

Sounds like a static freezer.

 

A question of air velocity ?

(theory IIRC = f [air flow-surface speed, thickness, conductivity, temp.difference])

Very interesting point. I will read more on air velocity and try to figure out what we have. 

 

It seems like I didn't mention an important point that it is actually a blast freezer usually operating at -21C. 



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Posted 20 December 2021 - 07:07 PM

I agree with Charles, you need to change to a blast freezer........this may be less expensive that a new compressor 

 

 

Or, temporarily, can you use dry ice?

 

Trays with holes probably isn't going to speed the cooling enough to get you within your time/temp requirements

 

If you cannot consistently meet your CCP requirements, then you need to put your foot down and tell them something has to change, and spending money at the lab all the time isn't the answer (particularly since one of the big ones was hit with a data breach and still isn't taking samples at all)

 

You could reevaluate the CCP and see if there is any flexibility there

 

Regular freezers are not designed to reduce the temperature of product rapidly so this isn't going to change until you change your process

Can you share a bit more on CCP flexibility? I thought we have to follow the CFIA standard of 54C to 27C in 2 hours and to 4C in no more than 7 hours. 



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Posted 20 December 2021 - 07:09 PM

I agree with the above. For our soups, we use a blast freezer and/or water bath. We do have a cooker that can cook and then chill items. We use this cooker for sauces and cooling them down. Another potential option.

We pack them hot. Do you mind sharing your cooking and chilling limits, is it like 85C for 10 or so minutes and then you cool it down to certain degrees prior to packaging? Does it have to be at a certain temperature while packaging? 



kfromNE

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Posted 20 December 2021 - 07:39 PM

We pack them hot. Do you mind sharing your cooking and chilling limits, is it like 85C for 10 or so minutes and then you cool it down to certain degrees prior to packaging? Does it have to be at a certain temperature while packaging? 

The USDA guidelines are stricter than yours. We cook to 180 F (82 C) so our starch can properly work/thicken. Guidelines say 165 F. We hot pack as well. It does not have to be a certain temperature to pack. We do not consider our products RTE and have heating instructions. However we follow pg. 24 of the attached option 1.2. 

https://www.fsis.usd...lines/2021-0013



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Posted 21 December 2021 - 06:26 AM

Very interesting point. I will read more on air velocity and try to figure out what we have. 

 

It seems like I didn't mention an important point that it is actually a blast freezer usually operating at -21C. 

Hi Foodprep,

 

As you may have already guessed, sounds like yr compressor is basically overloaded.

Should be attaining at least -30degC, preferably less. Possibly due any of loading, undersized, room leakage, age, etc, etc. . Combined with other cooling factors as mentioned previously.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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Scampi

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Posted 21 December 2021 - 04:59 PM

CFIA time/temp chilling requirements do not overrule your CCP time/temp as per your schedule process (you do have one, right? for low acid foods?)

 

 

Where are you getting the CFIA chilling requirements?


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Posted 21 December 2021 - 06:13 PM

CFIA time/temp chilling requirements do not overrule your CCP time/temp as per your schedule process (you do have one, right? for low acid foods?)

 

 

Where are you getting the CFIA chilling requirements?

Interesting! We got our CCP cooking time and temperature from research based on our target micros and then doing lab testing of cooked product. Our targets are L mono and C bot, although I couldn't find C bot testing anywhere however, for chilling we just took the limits as recommended by regulatory bodies. Can it be done differently? Thx 



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Posted 21 December 2021 - 06:19 PM

Reading through the link given by KfromNE, I have an idea that we don't transfer our product directly into the freezer. It appears that there is a 90 minute time period between cooking and start of chilling. I am not sure about Canadian requirement but I think CFIA should have something similar. Maybe we put our product in the fast chiller and let the temperature drop from 70/80C (158/176F) to like 60C (140F) and then transfer the product into the freezer. Most of the time, we are failing the first two hours by like 45ish min. 

 

Please give your opinions on this.

 

Your time is much appreciated,

K



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Posted 21 December 2021 - 06:41 PM

How do you store/ship/sell your product ?

 

Is your product meat?  That which you are referring to are meat and meat product time/temp


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kfromNE

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Posted 21 December 2021 - 07:46 PM

How do you store/ship/sell your product ?

 

Is your product meat?  That which you are referring to are meat and meat product time/temp

 

Not sure how Canadian laws work but we make soups with meat and non-meat so USDA and FDA regulated. We are able to keep the same cooling process for both. We use the USDA guidelines vs FDA since a majority of them contain meat.


Edited by kfromNE, 21 December 2021 - 07:48 PM.


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Posted 21 December 2021 - 08:28 PM

How do you store/ship/sell your product ?

 

Is your product meat?  That which you are referring to are meat and meat product time/temp

 

We have meat and non meat soups. To keep it simple, we are following the meat guidelines through all our products. 

 

Once the product temp reaches to 4C, it is transferred to Holding cooler. Product is sent in cardboard boxes. Orders are delivered by us or picked up by clients, mostly refrigerated sometimes frozen. We sell to local businesses and couple national retailers but only in our province. We are hoping to increase production and deliver nationally soon but the cooling challenge need to be addressed first. 



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Posted 22 December 2021 - 02:34 PM

Here's where I'm stuck

 

The chilling parameters you are using are probably NOT suitable for your product

 

Meat product, for the purpose of the chilling requirements, would be items like, pate, pepperoni, 

 

Your soup, that contains meat, is not a heat treated meat product under the SFCR.  My point is, a tube of meat that has been cooked has very different properties that your soup, so you need to be using appropriate cooking and cooling times for your specific product

 

https://www.health.n...ty/coolheat.htm

 

COOLING REQUIREMENTS For all of the above foods 120 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit within 2 hours and 70 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit in 4 additional hours

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Foodprep

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Posted 22 December 2021 - 07:55 PM

 

Here's where I'm stuck

 

The chilling parameters you are using are probably NOT suitable for your product

 

Meat product, for the purpose of the chilling requirements, would be items like, pate, pepperoni, 

 

Your soup, that contains meat, is not a heat treated meat product under the SFCR.  My point is, a tube of meat that has been cooked has very different properties that your soup, so you need to be using appropriate cooking and cooling times for your specific product

 

https://www.health.n...ty/coolheat.htm

 

COOLING REQUIREMENTS For all of the above foods 120 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit within 2 hours and 70 to 45 degrees Fahrenheit in 4 additional hours

 

Very informative. Thank you for your input. I will do more research into this. 



Charles.C

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Posted 23 December 2021 - 03:46 AM

Very informative. Thank you for your input. I will do more research into this. 

Probably advantageous  to "research" for a better freezing arrangement/system.


Kind Regards,

 

Charles.C


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Posted 23 December 2021 - 01:21 PM

If your cooling trays are light weight and not air permeable, consider more massive trays that act as a "heat sink" and pre-freeze them before use.  There will be more rapid heat transfer out of the soup until you reach an equilibrium, then the rest of the cooling will be as it is currently.

 

Also consider holding part of the lot over 145 while part of the lot cools.

 

Smaller bags or bags that lay flatter and thinner.

 

A lot of people think the freezer is coldest under the compressor, but the warmest air is there.  Consider putting the product closest in to the ex-changer output in the airflow.

 

Ice as an ingredient just before bagging and freezing.  Remove the equivalent earlier in the recipe.

 

Theses may help if you are close.

Dave







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