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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

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.

JBT freezer upgrades: growing capacity as your business grows

plant growing

Efficient, effective freezing solutions that last decades are a JBT speciality, but as your business grows and develops, there comes a stage when more capacity is needed. However, spending on a new machine is not always necessary. JBT’s retrofit- and upgrade program can bring older freezers into the modern era in a quick, safe and very cost-effective way. 

JBT offers upgrades to existing equipment, from replacing old, galvanized coils with stainless steel versions and improved, more efficient fans to the innovative Internet-Of-Things solution iOPS, which provides an integrated, connected overview of all systems. As an optional extra, JBT’s ADF (Air Defrost) system – for tackling snow build-up in freezers – enables producers to run for longer periods between defrosts and cleaning.

JBT PRoCARE-Technician

“If it is time to increase capacity, we can extend the belt to get more production through the freezer,” explains JBT Technical Solutions Manager, Robin Wachmann. “We can also replace coils, moving from old, galvanized versions to stainless steel, which offers improved safety and higher capacity. Stainless steel coils will also give you security against future rust attacks which can lead to refrigerant leakage.”

But how easy is it to upgrade older freezers? JBT engineers can modernize old freezer units with upgrades like an improved, automatically air-balanced fan system and connectivity to JBT’s iOPS system. Other additions, such as a fan motor frequency convertor, mean customers can save energy – and money – by slowing fans when 100% speed is not required.


An upgrade or retrofit also offers significant advantages if space is at a premium or a new freezing solution is urgently required. “Sometimes when newer equipment is going to take up a larger space in a facility or if time is at a premium, an upgrade can be a good option,” says Wachmann. “An upgrade can further be very cost-effective because often the whole line is made for a certain volume of production and therefore if they just repair the existing one, everyone knows how to handle it and they know what they get.

“There’s a strong safety element to upgrades,” he adds. “With many old freezers, you can open the doors and go right into them. That is obviously not really up to today’s safety standards, so we can provide customers with an upgrade kit including a safety lock on the door and service handles.”

LEARN MORE about JBT upgrades and retrofits

JBT detergents: the right formula for effective cleaning

All customers have different needs and requirements when it comes to equipment and machinery, and the same is true when it comes to cleaning. To get the most out of JBT equipment, it is important that customers are using the right cleaning agents, which can also help guard against unnecessary wear and corrosion.

Joël Thomas, JBT’s West Region (Europe) Technical Solution Manager, explains why getting cleaning right is vital not just for meeting food safety standards, but also for keeping machinery in optimum working order.

Whether it be ready meals or bakery or dairy, or any manner of other food products, it is true to say that our customers produce very different products and for the same reason their machinery cleaning requirements are often just as varied. 

Of course, depending on who you talk to – from maintenance managers to the quality department to the plant manager himself – people have different perspectives on what are the correct products and methods for cleaning. For many, the top priority is avoiding or reducing wear on a machine. In some cases, you can find corrosion in some machines because some customers are not using the right cleaning detergents, for example chlorine is totally forbidden in our equipment because some parts have aluminium.

Then of course you have quality control people who are looking for a clean, shiny machine. We carry out training for customers to show them how they can improve and what our detergents can do for them. 

Avoiding unnecessary wear
Formula Clean® 110 and 210 are alkaline-based, foaming detergents specifically developed to fit JBT product lines and avoid unnecessary wear of components and equipment. Each product within the Formula Clean range has its purpose and special qualities and comes in different containers to customer needs. 

Often when I visit factories, machines have already been cleaned by contractors or employees, but even then if you apply the Formula Clean detergent you can really see the difference with the quality of the foam and the shine it delivers. In some cases, customers have gone on to re-clean their machines after seeing the results. If it’s combined with a PRoCARE preventative maintenance contract, we will carry out training so all employees learn how to effectively clean a machine using Formula Clean.

In those cases where companies have difficulties with listeria, it is often found that the culprit lies with inadequate cleaning procedures. We can help with the right product and the right process for cleaning the machine. Sometimes you can find machines that are 10-15 years old and perhaps over the years personnel and cleaning procedures have changed, but we can also help to put in place all the right procedures for optimum cleaning and to get the equipment back to its original conditions. This also helps improve both product safety and overall production.

LEARN MORE about JBT cleaning agents

Want to clean more effectively? JBT can help maximize freezer hygiene

Efficient cleaning of a freezer is fundamentally important, not just for the obvious hygiene necessities, but also for the effective functioning of equipment. However, too often cleaning agent suppliers will sell customers detergents but leave them in the dark when it comes to their proper usage and dosage. 

The result is customers can end up spending too much time and money on cleaning processes due to insufficient training, the wrong types of chemicals and volumes, or unplanned cleaning interventions. At the very least customers can face unnecessary business and environmental risks at higher costs.

This is where JBT differs. As well as having an extensive range of Clean-In-Place (CIP options) to fit all budgets, JBT provides ongoing support and training for customers to make sure cleaning processes are being carried out effectively and efficiently. Furthermore, JBT cleaning agents avoid the use of chlorine or other unsuitable chemicals, which can have a detrimentally corrosive effect on machine parts over time.

The importance of training 
JBT’s Formula Clean program ensures the highest cleaning standards while preventing unnecessary wear to equipment – plus correct and safe cleaning, explains JBT Business Support Manager, Niklas Landby. “We perform and offer cleaning audits to assure the cleaning process is completed in the best way possible,” he says. “This is extremely important for food safety, and it’s important to not use unnecessarily strong or too much chemicals, which add costs and can damage your investments. Most providers offer cheaper solutions such as chlorine, which is very effective but will destroy equipment over time. We help customers optimize cleaning to make sure everything is functioning correctly.”

Landby says what makes JBT unique as a company is that we do not just supply detergents, but look at the entire operating and cleaning process. “JBT will typically set-up the concentration with the chemicals and train the customer on how the machine should be cleaned,” he continues. 

“Customers reach out to JBT to get support in their cleaning process, personnel training and water temperature guidance. Too high concentrations and the associated negative environmental aspect are also a common problem, but we can help customers reach the right levels.”

Positive effects
JBT’s Formula Clean detergents have been specially developed to work within food production facilities, with a range of products and applications adapted for all types of equipment operating at warm or cold temperatures. Considerations have been given to the extremes of temperatures food machinery is regularly exposed to, explains Landby, with the types of detergents used varying depending on the applications and equipment to be cleaned.

“We are seeing great results for customer plants that have already transitioned over to JBT detergents. Our customers have seen savings from decreased volumes of detergents used due to the need for fewer repeat cleans. The right detergents in the right concentrations also protect customers’ equipment at the same time,” Landby concludes.

As a key element of JBT’s commitment to customers, PRoCARE preventative maintenance agreements are also typically included as part of a package, enabling JBT to calculate a company’s necessary chemical usage in order to clean effectively, he adds.

LEARN MORE about JBT’s Formula Clean program

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