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Ensuring poultry safety: the vital role of Prevenio Lab Services

Ensuring food safety is vital for any company working in the protein industries. Product recalls can lead to ruined reputations, facility shutdowns and lost customers, to stay nothing of the potentially lethal risk to public health. This is why ensuring in-plant testing is effective in detecting harmful pathogens is vital to any company working in poultry or related sectors.

JBT’s Prevenio Lab Services is a food safety specialist working with customers within poultry and produce industries by providing pathogen detection services through its accredited microbiological laboratory. Every year, food processors conduct pathogen testing to ensure customer safety and maintain compliance with government-mandated food safety standards.

Some retailers require additional, even more rigorous testing to prevent product recalls, avoid brand damage, and guard against revenue losses. JBT’s Prevenio lab offers the most cutting-edge, innovative, and reliable food-safety testing in the world.

Cross-contamination risk
“A lot of what we deal with is detecting cross-contamination with bacteria, such as SalmonellaCampylobacter, Listeria and  E. coli,”” says Dr. Melissa Landrum, JBT Prevenio’s Director of Microbiology. “This can be due to a lot of different reasons, such as problems with sanitation programs where things are being missed or it could be some equipment may need to altered to achieve better efficacy. It could even be something as simple as cross-contamination on shoes or in the plant. We can pinpoint a lot of different reasons for the presence of pathogens.”

As Landrum explains, to help customers solve contamination problems, the Prevenio team visits facilities in person to biomap and take samples before and after each intervention to find out exactly where the risks are before they become an issue with the regulatory agencies. 

“Any time a customer finds there is a problem with their internal testing, we will go in and figure out where the problem is or where the cross-contamination point is located,” she says.

Solving dilemmas
Within a poultry plant, the Prevenio team will typically look at whole birds and parts rinses, such as wings and legs, as well as testing finished products, including cooked or marinated chicken.

As an example, Landrum and her colleagues recently aided a poultry plant which was receiving USDA positives for Salmonella, despite internal testing giving the site a clean bill of health. The team, she explains, carried out a “hands on the floor” assessment, looking at where and how sanitation was being carried out, where samples were being taken from for testing and how that testing was being conducted.

“We figured out specific procedures were not being followed for sample collection and provided training and guidance to their internal lab to ensure samples were being run correctly. We located some points of cross contamination that could be addressed,” recalls Landrum. “We gave them pointers and now their results are lining up with the USDA.”

Dire consequences
While the recent example of the poultry plant looks to have been successful, the consequences of not taking action can be dire and can range from bad publicity to a complete closure of a business. 

Firstly, says Landrum, the results of regular USDA testing are reported publicly, so the public can see what plants have problems and in what location, and that can really put a dampener on a company. “The danger is they lose customers and the USDA can shut them down,” she says. “If there are recalls, customers can decide to go with a competitor instead.”

By choosing the assistance of Prevenio, JBT customers can guard against the worst happening by making sure poultry operations remain compliant and above all safe from initial processing through to the end consumer.

LEARN MORE about Prevenio Lab Services

Introducing the Prime CSKB-1 Skinner: a new level of hygiene for poultry processing

Tired of cumbersome poultry skinning systems that have to be dismantled every night to maintain hygiene? Meet the new Prime CSKB-1 Skinner, an ultra-hygenic, simplified solution that combines economy of design with innovations to remove those bacteria traps that have required frequent cleaning in all skinners until now.

Most, if not all skinners, are based around modular belts, which have to be dismantled and sanitized at the close of each day to ensure bacterial build-up does not take place. In contrast, the Prime CSKB-1 Skinner eliminates this problem by replacing the modular design with a seamless, sanitary belt, which can be cleaned by a simple hose down. 

At the same time, Prime Equipment engineers have eliminated many components from the previous skinner design, meaning that many less pieces that could potentially fail or require replacement. With its improved simplicity, Prime estimates a 50% reduction in total MMR cost compared with the previous model (a design which is replicated throughout the industry).

10-minute turnaround
Distilling the advantages, Prime Equipment’s Nick Gasbarro describes the sanitary belt as a step forward for the poultry processing industry. “The simplicity of the machine, which includes getting rid of the paddle wheel and the upper assembly, makes it an easier machine to manage, and this has reduced the Total Cost of Ownership of the Skinner as a whole,” he says.

“To take apart and reassemble the previous version of the Skinner for cleaning was probably a 35-40 minute process for one person and in a lot of plants you have 10-15 skinners; we have now reduced that to 10 minutes.”

When Prime introduced the skinner category, it succeeded in taking people off the processing line. With the new Prime CSKB-1 Skinner, Gasbarro says Prime is reducing the sanitation and maintenance time, which frees up employees to focus on other tasks. 

Revolutionizing skinning
Prime Equipment was started by Nick Gasbarro’s grandfather, Geno, father, Mike, and uncle, Joe, in the early 1990s. Whereas previously skinning chicken and turkey meats had been a labor-intensive task with a poor record on yield, Prime invented a solution that used a “paddle-wheel” shaped roller that automatically removed the skin in a far more effective way without losing valuable meat along the way.

“It was very revolutionary for the chicken industry and really created its own product category,” recalls Gasbarro. “It’s something we are very proud, particularly because it saved a lot of injuries to workers that had previously been common, such as carpal tunnel injuries.”

At this time, the Prime Skinner could be equally applicable to turkey as chicken, white meat and dark, but its initial modular design made it tricky to clean. 

A new level of hygiene
With time, the design of Prime’s original skinner was replicated across the industry, but the cleaning challenge remained, regardless of manufacturer. 

In response, Gasbarro’s grandfather – now in his 90s – has delivered a winning solution once again in the form of a seamless belt featuring flights to replace the wear-and-tear heavy paddle wheel, while at the same time performing the same function. Forming a key component of the new Prime CSKB-1 Skinner, the new belt brings new levels of hygiene to poultry skinning, with cleaning also be carried out by a simple hose down rather than dismantling the entire system.

“The old belts on our skinners and those being used across the industry are modular, so they can be bacteria traps and as a result have to be removed and sanitized at the end of each day,” explains Gasbarro. “With the new CSKB-1 Skinner, the seamless belt eliminates this problem and can be cleaned quickly and simply. Through this action we were also able to eliminate the upper assembly conveyance, which moved the product through the pinch-point, so that means one less moving part that has to be maintained.”

The new Skinner also features a switch from a traditional gear-and-motor drive system to a drum-drive: a single, self-contained motor with a much simpler drive system that lasts longer and uses less energy than the traditional gear motor drive. “We took a concept that was simple and we’ve made it even simpler,” Gasbarro adds.

LEARN MORE about the Prime CSKB-1 Skinner

Pay now or pay more later? The importance of timely maintenance

In a world where energy bills seem to be going ever up and staff shortages can make recruitment a costly headache, there is a temptation to set aside essential equipment maintenance for another day. However, such a decision risks not only unplanned downtime, but can also lead to expensive and lengthy repairs when breakdowns occur.

JBT is committed to supporting customers by providing timely, factual inspections that follow a protocol designed to track the wear on the drive system, belt and check the condition of the enclosure and electrical systems. This allows the team to advise customers on planning their maintenance spend by discussing the inspection report findings and agreeing on what is needed and assisting by advising on what repairs are required immediately.

The inspection protocol and the report that accompanies it is designed to allow the planning of capex level repairs and allows sites to also track the wear rates of the consumable items. At the same time, maintenance projects are combined wherever possible to help customers better manage the cost, writes Noel Carrick, JBT Service Manager for the UK and Ireland.

At JBT UK and Ireland, we are on track to meet or exceed the number of inspections carried out in 2021 and – at the same time – there has been a sharp increase in the cost of quotations between 2021 and 2022 due to inflation and increased material costs. But while this may seem encouraging from a healthy maintenance point of view, there is a concerning trend that points in the opposite direction.

Over the past 12 months, we have seen a growing trend of customers reacting to the costs of energy and staffing going through the roof by putting off essential repairs. 

The potential consequences of such a decision can be very costly. If customers are lucky, they might only suffer a day or a day-and-a-half of unplanned downtime. If not and they suffer a De-Stack of their spiral freezer, they are likely to be looking at four days, plus the cost of replacement belt sections, which can run into tens of thousands of pounds or dollars.

Most JBT freezers are built around a self-supporting stack where the belt comes in and stacks in an “endless loop”. As JBT engineers, we build a stack from the bottom up, then take it around and feed it in again. If you have an issue with the drive system that causes either the inner or outer drive to stop, the belt will fall off one of the drive chains and de-stack.

If the problem isn’t serious, the freezer can be re-stacked slowly over the course of a day. In a worst case scenario, the belt has to be cut into small pieces and removed through one of the doors: that can take six people a day to do, followed by a day to investigate why the problem happened, and another two days to carry out repairs and install a new belt.

And bear in mind that one hour’s lost production can total thousands of pounds in itself.

But what can cause a de-stack? 

There are many potential causes for a de-stack, one of them is delayed maintenance spend.

Most JBT freezer self-stacking systems are run on a ball drive that uses plastic balls. These typically last a year-and-a-half to two years, but if too much wearing takes place, the size of the balls will decrease and there will be more unsupported chain taking the weight of the belt or will allow for the drive chain to lean excessively which could result in a de-stack.

An even more expensive potential problem that worn balls can cause is if an unsupported drive chain leans excessively it can undercut the support rail, which can be extremely expensive to replace, as well as resulting in a minimum four days of no production. 

The advice we give is tempered towards what a customer must do. If there is something else we recommend, it would be because it is economically beneficial to do both jobs at the same time. This is especially the case if two issues are interrelated. 

At JBT, we’ll do our utmost to keep your lines running. And we’ll also make sure you aren’t paying needlessly by providing honest feedback designed to keep your freezers on track.

Minimizing microplastics in the food processing line

This article was originally published on JBT’s Plant-based Protein Blog.

Scientists have recognized plastic pollution as an environmental problem for a long time, but recently it has increased substantially and become more urgent to manage. Besides the visible plastic pollution, like bags and bottles, the focus also has come on the invisible form – the microplastic particles. 

The study of microplastic contamination of food products and its impact on human food safety is an emerging field, but a lot is still unknown. Ingesting microplastics into the human body constitutes a probable hazard. For the food processing industry, the use of plastic parts that will wear down must be avoided in the food zone. 

Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic material that vary greatly despite their similarity of being very small in size. The smallest parts are not visible to the naked eye. Their composition can be any kind of plastic material, such as polyethylene (PE), polybutylene succinate (PBS), or polyvinyl chloride (PVC). They can also have different shapes, colors, sizes, and densities.

The small pieces of plastic can be grouped into primary and secondary microplastics based on where they come from before they end up in nature. Primary microplastics are already tiny when disposed of, coming from cosmetic products and various industries. Secondary microplastics come from larger pieces of plastic such as bags, bottles, and fishing nets that are disposed of and are subjected to weathering and then fragment into micro and nano plastics. Secondary microplastics account for most of those found in the oceans, ingested by marine animals.

Minimizing plastic usage in freezers: the Frigoscandia GYRoCOMPACT

Chemical contaminants
Microplastics may act as vehicles or carriers for environmental contaminants and other chemicals added during manufacturing. Chemicals such as styrene, toxic metals, phthalates, and bisphenol A, may be absorbed on the surface of microplastics and may act as “substrates.” These pollutants and additives can be transferred from ingested microplastics to animal tissues and cause impairment of crucial body functions.

Food and beverage operators need robust and accurate characterization tools and methodologies to understand the scale of microplastic contamination and reduce consumer exposure. Taking a proactive stance on microplastics is also a positive step from a brand reputation perspective.

Minimizing risk
Microplastics can also originate from pieces in the food processing equipment. Using plastics in moving parts in sections that are in direct contact with the food increases the risk for contamination. As the parts are exposed to wear and tear, it can generate microplastics directly in food zone 1.

Conventional spiral freezers, for example, are based on plastic wear strips to achieve acceptable friction. When the belt moves alongside the drum on plastic-coated guides, the friction wears on the plastic and releases small microscopical parts. These wear strips has a typical acceptable wear of 1-2 mm over 20,000-30,000 hours of operation. A conventional 35 tier 700 mm wide belt spiral freezer has a total length of 1,250 m belt wear strips in tier carriers. The total area with 14 mm wear surface is 18 dm2. That gives a total volume of worn off plastic (1.5 mm wear) equivalent to 27 liters of microplastic, not counting wear strips in center drum.

Besides the apparent hazard, microplastic may also act as a vehicle or carrier for chemicals. That means that the processed ingredients also can get contaminated with oil from the machine and create black spots on the food. With this in mind, JBT designed the Frigoscandia GYRoCOMPACT® self-stacking freezer. Its unique Self-Stacking stainless steel mesh belt has no plastic parts in the food zone that can generate microplastics.

The GYRoCOMPACT has 25 meters of belt wear strips which is only 2% compared to the 1,250 m belt wear strips of the conventional spiral freezer. With the industry’s only self-contained 100% cleanable freezing zone, ease of accessibility throughout the enclosure, and easy evaporator access offering exceptional cleanability, it provides you with the ultimate performance in product hygiene.

At JBT, we know that the design of food processing equipment is essential for food safety. That’s why we always design to minimize all unnecessary surfaces and use as little material as possible to avoid dirt traps. We call it Hygiene by Design, and it is crucial in food zone 1, where the equipment has direct physical contact with the products. We also have specialists just focusing on reducing the use of unwanted materials like plastics.

JBT’s COOLCAT: putting excessive energy bills on ice

Looking for a re-chiller that performs above the industry standard without sky-high energy bills? The COOLCAT Re-Chiller could be the option you are looking for, thanks to high performance efficiency and a system that builds energy savings into its design.

One of the finest re-chillers available on the market today, the COOLCAT combines superb reliability with one of the most economical systems commercially available; a system which utilizes two hermetically sealed ammonia pumps, one for principal use and the other for back-up in case of unforeseen contingencies. 

Built-in savings
“A lot of savings have been built in to the design,” explains Dustin Huggins, JBT’s Product Manager for Chillers and Re-chillers. 

“The unit is a recirculated system and utilizes a small pump to move the refrigerant vs. hot gas injection. The refrigeration system sees a significant reduction of load with this method. The result is a pretty big savings for any plant that has the Re-Chiller installed.”

Each COOLCAT unit comes with hermetically sealed ammonia pumps for minimum energy consumption, as well as C.A.T.’s unique, patented “U” bends – manufactured using an exclusive proprietary process – which do not leak. 

As well as this, the Re-Chiller includes state-of-the-art PLC control packages as standard on each unit to regulate temperature.

Freeze protection
Using two pumps and the ammonia system, the water going through the piping is cooled to 32℉ (0℃); as close to freezing as you can get without the water solidifying, Huggins explains. However, as an extra level of assurance, the Re-Chiller features built-in freeze protection, and the machine will shut down as a safety measure if the amount of water entering the system reaches too high a pressure. Additionally, it has floating tubes which are not fixed into position which allows both for thermal expansion and gives the tubes room the breathe.

ASME rated at 250psi, each COOLCAT Re-Chiller is tested at C.A.T.’s Russellville, Arkansas factory before being shipped out to customers worldwide. Featuring stainless steel frame and stainless steel components, every model comes completely pre-piped including all refrigerant valves, pre-wired, and pre-insulated, with all necessary isolation valves and pressure gauges included.

LEARN MORE about the JBT COOLCAT Re-Chiller

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