Importance Of Ssops To Haccp

HACCP, as applied to juice production, requires that sanitation standard operating procedures (SSOPs) be developed and consistently applied. For juice manufacture the SSOP must address eight points: (1) safety of the water that comes into contact with the product; (2) conditions and cleanliness of food contact surfaces; (3) prevention of cross contamination; (4) maintenance of hand washing, sanitizing, and toilet facilities; (5) protection of food, food contact surfaces, and packaging material from adulteration; (6) proper labeling, storage, and use of any toxic compounds; (7) control of employee health that could result in microbial contamination of the food; and (8) exclusion of pests from the food processing facilities [13].

The juice HACCP rule sparked considerable public comment, especially the requirement of HACCP for juice processing in lieu of better enforcement of GMPs and SSOPs. The FDA conducted a survey of cider production facilities in 1997 [30]. In that survey, 67% of firms had good sanitation, 27% were marginal, and only 4% were categorized as poor. Microbiological trends indicated that the cider plant GMPs and SSOPs implemented during processing did not substantially reduce the level of microbiological contamination between incoming raw ingredients and finished juice.

Senkel et al. followed the performance of 11 Maryland cider producers before and after HACCP training [29]. Although a significant decrease in

E. coli positive juice was reported, not all cider processed was negative for E. coli after the implementation of more stringent processing control. The efficacy of GMPs and SSOPs in controlling contamination in an experimental commercial cider plant was examined by Keller et al. [32]. As expected, the lack of appropriate sanitation controls resulted in significant increases in E. coli K-12 in juice, when inoculated apples were used for cider processing. However, re-implementation of appropriate GMPs and SSOPs during cider manufacture failed to yield reduced E. coli levels in juice to below detectable limits, suggesting that GMPs and SSOPs alone are incapable of ensuring safety of fresh cider. In addition, considerable cross contamination was observed between batches of cider when intentionally contaminated and uncontami-nated apple batches were alternately processed. Cross contamination occurred even under stringent application of SSOPs. The key findings of this study were as follows: (1) preharvest prevention of contamination of apples is essential;

(2) if contaminated apples enter the processing environment, juice safety will be compromised both in the contaminated and subsequent juice batches;

(3) SSOPs and GMPs are critical to the maintenance of a sanitary establishment, but are insufficient controls to reduce hazard levels in juice once a contaminated batch has been processed; (4) for apple cider production, a terminal 5-log treatment is essential to ensure product safety. In addition, any process needs to be validated and verified through a HACCP program.

Processing apple juice/cider is a considerably different process than is used for most citrus products. During apple juice/cider processing, the whole fruit including the skin is macerated and juice expressed with pressure applied on the fruit mash. For citrus processing, juice is commonly extracted using an automated extractor that separates juice from the fruit peel, seeds, and large pieces of pulp simultaneously [14]. In theory, only a small hole (approximately 1 inch) is cut into the fruit to extract the juice, and the juice has limited exposure to peel surface. Pao and Davis studied the transfer of microorganisms from fruit surface to juice during extraction [64]. Both natural and artificially inoculated microorganisms were followed during this study. Results indicated that significant transfer could occur (1.7%) for both naturally occurring and artificially inoculated organisms. Several different strains of E. coli were included among the artificially inoculated fruit. Significant cross contamination was also observed by Martinez-Gonzales et al. during the preparation of fresh orange juice [65]. Initial counts for inoculated orange surfaces were 2.3 log CFU/cm2 for S. Typhimurium, 3.6 log CFU/cm2 for E. coli O157:H7, and 4.4 log CFU/cm2 for L. monocytogenes. Transfer from the fruit to the juice during mechanical extraction resulted in 1.0 log CFU/ml of S. Typhimurium, 2.3 log CFU/ml E. coli O157:H7, and 2.7 log CFU/ml L. monocytogenes in final orange juice. The authors concluded that strict sanitation programs and decontamination treatments for fruit might be effective control measures to prevent cross contamination and to reduce risk of foodborne illness.

In summary, studies with both apple and orange juice clearly show the importance of SSOPs. For both types of product, transfer of both pathogens and indigenous microflora into product can be reduced by strict adherence to

GMPs and SSOPs. However, despite reductions in microbial levels, results also clearly indicate that such procedures will be insufficient to ensure elimination of all pathogens present. Consequently, HACCP, GMPs, and SSOPs are all required to ensure juice safety.

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