Chapter 4 - Meat Processing Controls and Procedures
4.11 Drying Treatments

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4.11.1 Dehydration

This is accomplished by drying-in air, the application of heat or by freeze-drying. This form of preservation depends on a lowering of the water activity (aw) of the product to inhibit the growth of microorganisms. The lowering of the water activity may also be accomplished by the addition of sugars or salt. It must be remembered that a reduction in water activity neither destroys microorganisms nor toxins; it only retards the growth of microorganisms.

When the aw of a product is a critical limit set out in the manufacturing process for a meat product, accurate measurement devices must be employed. The instructions for use, maintenance and calibration of measurement devices and instruments must be included in the operator's prerequisite programs and HACCP system.

If a dehydrated product that is not cooked is sold as shelf-stable (i.e., there is no "keep refrigerated" statement), it has to meet the same applicable controls as shelf-stable fermented meat products (see section 4.16.3).

4.11.1.1 Facility and Equipment Requirements

Equipment used in the dehydration process must be included in the operator's prerequisite control programs. These must include the following elements:

  • The temperature in the drying chamber/room must be uniform and controlled to prevent any fluctuation that could impact on the safety of the final product.
  • The drying chamber/room must be equipped with a shatter resistant indicating thermometer (or equivalent), with graduations of 1°C or less. All thermometers must be located such that they can be easily read.
  • Indicating and recording thermometers must be calibrated.
  • Drying and aging rooms must be equipped with humidity recorders in order to prevent uncontrolled fluctuations of the relative humidity. The only alternative to an automatic humidity recorder in these rooms would be for the company to manually monitor and record ambient humidity twice a day (morning and afternoon) every day with a properly calibrated portable humidity recorder.
  • aw measurement.

4.11.2 Salted and Dried Products

Salting lowers the aw to achieve a reduction in water activity that retards the growth of microorganisms but does not alter the microbiological load of the incoming product. Therefore, the operator must have a program in place to assess the incoming product.

4.11.3 Cooked and Dried Products

As dried beef products may pose a hazard associated with E. coli O157:H7, these products must be submitted to a heat treatment before the drying process.

The following methods have been found acceptable for this purpose:

  • cooking the product so it reaches an internal temperature of 71°C for 15 seconds before starting the drying process;
  • a process validated as achieving a 5D reduction in E. coli O157:H7. Refer to section 4.16.2.2 for recognized processing parameters; and
  • an alternative challenge study of a design acceptable to the CFIA and Health Canada achieving a 5D reduction in E. coli O157:H7 can be used.
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