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Thawing fully package goods in water bath

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Posted 24 May 2022 - 07:43 PM

I have definitely tried searching for a good answer to this before posting and haven't found exactly the most clear explanation or other people' links for reference were dead. 


We have a RTE fully cooked type operation (FDA and USDA) and constantly accumulate non-conforming finished goods that are in need of reworking. 

To be clear, our definition of "rework" is opening finished good products from a previous production lot to be added back to process during cook step and undergo full lethality treatment process, again,  before being deemed good for sale. 


For the basis of this conversation, consider the non-conforming products only to be quality factors and not micro related. 


What we need is a procedure for (and possibly advisement on validation methods to prove food safety), the thawing of fully sealed pouches of rework product in a water bath to soften product just enough to safely open and remove outer pouch from product inside in order to add back into cook kettle. This thaw and add back cook process will be for same day use and not done prior to production date. 


We are interested in this method because thawing in a refrigerator has proven to take up to 2 weeks without down-stacking pallets and implementing spacers which also take up valuable space and labor.  We also found that the pouches are too difficult to remove if product remains fully frozen plus with larger pouched product (3+ lbs) risk of damages to the scrapers and agitator in our kettles can exist when dumped while hard frozen. 


Can anyone advise on regulation regarding water temperature, time allowed to leave pouches in water bath, and temperature monitoring of pouched products during water bath process?  As I said prior, this rework would be opened and immediately re-cooked but can the verbiage of "immediately" be scrutinized as well? Our duration of opening then re-cooking could realistically take 3-4 hours of wait time before actually being dumped in the kettle. Rooms are refrigerated. 


Thanks in advance. 



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Posted 24 May 2022 - 07:58 PM

What kind of product?  Answer will depend on this

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Posted 25 May 2022 - 08:29 PM

How long is it in the water bath?  All you have to do is prove that contamination is not a concern and you are not leaving it there long enough to grow bacteria (plus you have a kill step).  I would write up a policy that product is placed in a water bath for no more than .. time frame.. and microbial growth is not a concern due to the short time period and kill step/cooking process.

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