Improving Food Safety in Pork Processing

Protecting human health, minimizing food loss and food waste, and reducing equipment damage are top priorities for all food manufacturers, but protein processors face the most challenges when it comes to eliminating pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria. A variety of factors such as incoming pathogen loads on carcasses, plant and equipment design and simply the process itself make protein processing difficult. Pork processing can be divided into three areas: slaughter, meat cutting, and further processing. This creates multiple areas that lead to the buildup of resistant pathogens, biofilm and other food safety concerns.

Biofilms are the root cause of 60% of foodborne disease outbreaks. Biofilms thrive in moist, undisturbed niches where hand scrubbing may not be feasible, making protein processing environments the ideal space to grow. In a previous Insight, we covered five ways to manage biofilm in food processing facilities, but this Insight covers where we can find biofilm.

The best strategy for improving food safety in pork plants is to apply proper hygiene and antimicrobial intervention technologies. Even after proper cleaning and sanitation you might be surprised where else biofilm can be found. There are many hidden areas where biofilm and resistant foodborne pathogens can easily and quickly build up.

Here are 10 places to find biofilm in pork plants that get easily overlooked:

  1. Cutting boards
  2. Slicers
  3. Brine injectors
  4. Meat grinding/mincing machine and parts
  5. Sausage filling machines
  6. Meat smoking machines
  7. Spiral freezers
  8. Cooling tunnels
  9. Overhead air units
  10. Drains

Why Finding Biofilm Matters

Removing biofilm and killing biofilm forming pathogens has multiple benefits. It can increase shelf life, reduce the risk of product recalls, and drive operational efficiency. Managing biofilm harborage points on equipment can extend equipment life. Technology innovations to equipment offer more hygienic design, but upgrading equipment comes at a large capital cost. Finding and removing biofilm also increases heat transfer equipment efficiency.

The Sterilex Solution

Sterilex products reduce cross-contamination issues at its source — biofilm. Protection from biofilm is two-fold: prevention and destruction. Sterilex Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner Solution 1 and Sterilex Ultra Activator Solution and ProvaCharge Foam (available only in the EU) is specifically designed for biofilm and resistant pathogen control. Our proprietary chemistries provide broad spectrum kill of pathogens and kill bacterial biofilms — including Listeria biofilm.

We recognize there are a variety of surfaces in a processing plant and many of the overlooked places we mentioned above are aluminum. Our Ultra Soft Metal Activator is used with Sterilex Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner Solution 1 — in place of Sterilex Ultra Activator Solution — to create a solution compatible with a wide variety of soft metals.

Want to learn more? Check out these additional resources:

Webinar: Biofilm Control for Pork Producers
Case Study: ProvaCharge Foam + UK Pork Processor