Chapter 2 : Engineering Errors

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Today’s food engineers have no excuse to be ignorant of microbiology. Yet some present-day food engineers still turn a blind eye to the microbiological implications of their designs in the name of efficiency-sometimes to the long-term cost of their employer’s reputation and business, and to the detriment of the health and safety of consumers. Dried milk, one of the world's first engineered foods, is as old as the Mongol civilization. In some ways, powdered milk production hasn’t changed over the last 700 years. Nearly all of the powdered milk produced these days for human consumption is spray dried. Production of milk powder requires several preliminary steps, including clarification, fat separation, pasteurization, and concentration of fluid milk. Concentrated milk enters the spray drier through an atomizer. Finally, powdered milk is recovered from the spray drier and packaged. Pasteurization should have eliminated any organisms that might have been in the raw milk. Without proper pasteurization, could easily have survived to contaminate the spray-dried milk. In most fluid milk plants, pasteurization is one of the last steps before packaging. Lab investigators, using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and ribotyping methods, determined that one single strain of was responsible for all of the illnesses caused during the November 1998 outbreak. Engineering for maximum productivity and processing efficiency is not enough. Long ago, the food industry recognized the need to design equipment and processing facilities for ease of cleaning and sanitation and, in the 1920s, developed the first set of 3-A Sanitary Standards.

Citation: Entis P. 2007. Engineering Errors, p 13-30. In Food Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816186.ch2

Key Concept Ranking

Food Microbiology
Food Safety
Listeria monocytogenes
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Image of Figure 2.1
Figure 2.1

Skim milk powder production sequence. (1) Raw milk bulk tank. (2) Clarifier. (3) Separator. (4) Fat (for butter or blending into milk). (5) Pasteurizer. (6) Atomizer. (7) Spray dryer. (8) Cyclone recuperator. (9) Air exhaust. (10) Spray-dried milk to packaging.

Citation: Entis P. 2007. Engineering Errors, p 13-30. In Food Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816186.ch2
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Image of Figure 2.2
Figure 2.2

Wiener production plant. (1) Mixing bin. (2) Stuffer. (3) Suspended conveyer line. (4) Spray cooler. (5) Casing remover. (6) Wiener conveyer belt. (7) Packaging machine. (8) Brine tank. (9) Passageway between raw and cooked product rooms. (10) Overhead entry doors.

Citation: Entis P. 2007. Engineering Errors, p 13-30. In Food Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816186.ch2
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Generic image for table
Table 2.1

Outbreaks and recalls tied to powdered milk and powdered infant formula

Citation: Entis P. 2007. Engineering Errors, p 13-30. In Food Safety. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816186.ch2

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