GOOD HYGIENE PRACTICES FOR CHEESE PRODUCTION
I. STAFF: GENERAL HYGIENE, TRAINING, HEALTH
Hazards posed by food handlers are easily controlled through simple good hygiene practices.
General Hygiene for workers.
Effective handwashing with soap and water is the essential means of infection control in a food production business. Fingernails must be clean and unvarnished as well as avoiding usage of false fingernails. The thumbs and between the fingers must be washed with care. In the case of outdoor milking where water is unavailable, hand-gel or wipes can be used. However, hands should be sanitized by washing with soap and water at the next chance.
Staff should wash their hands:
? Before milking animals.
? Once entering the food production area.
? Before handling food or ingredients or starter cultures.
? After going to the toilet.
? After using the phone.
? After handling potentially contaminated material.
? Whenever they are dirty.
Through staffs’ behaviour and practices, they should always try to avoid contamination and crosscontamination of products. In particular:
? Cuts and abrasions must be covered with a waterproof dressing or glove.
? Food handlers should avoid smoking, spitting, chewing or eating.
? Food handlers should refrin from sneezing or coughing over food products.
? Jewellery should not be allowed in production areas.
? Where accidental release may threat a risk of contamination, allergens (including cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, molluscs, eggs, fish, peanuts, nuts, soybeans, celery, mustard, sesame, lupin and sulphur dioxide) should not be brought into the food-handling area unless as a declared ingredient.
Staff must wear designated clothing for milking and clean clothes for food production; the same clothes worn for working on the farm should not be the ones worn in the dairy. A change of outer clothing such as overcoats or aprons should be provided when entering the food production area and should be removed before leaving the premises or going to the toilet. Change of footwear must be provided when required to prevent dirt being brought into the dairy. When a disinfectant footbath is used, the contents should be refreshed regularly to ensure their effectiveness.
All food handlers and milking staff should be trained; this may be through direct instruction by a more experienced colleague or by obtaining a formal food hygiene qualification. Training should highlight the food safety hazards encountered in dairy production and encourage understanding of good hygienic practice.
Staff should always be in a good state of health to reduce the presence of infectious disease on the premises. Staff may confirm fitness-to-work by their attendance and should absent themselves either under a doctor’s instruction. Staff may exclude themselves if infected skin or discharge from the ear, eyes or nose poses a risk of food contamination.
If their clothing poses a contamination risk to products, visitors to the food production area should be provided with a protective overcoat, hairnet (where used) and footwear and should be followed by a member of staff to ensure compliance with the general hygiene requirements. Visitors who are suffering from vomiting, diarrhoea or infectious disease should not be allowed in the food production area.
II. PREMISES AND EQUIPMENT
Requirements for Equipment and Premises Used for the Production of Dairy Products
The location, design and construction of buildings and adjacent areas built for the production, storage and sale of dairy products, should allow these activities to be carried out in hygienic conditions by preventing direct contact with or exposure to waste materials, dirt, foreign bodies and pests including insects and rodents. The cheese dairy should be as close as possible to the point of milking to minimize risks during the milk transport.
i. General layout and process-flow. The premises be suitable for the activities taking place at the dairy, considering factors such as production volume, cheese varieties produced and the number of operators.
ii. Storage and transport of milk. It is possible to use other containers such as hermetically sealed buckets or churns which may be refrigerated by alternative means while milk is commonly stored in a bulk tank. Milk may be transported by churn, can, jar, tanker, pallecon or by any other container suitable for food contact. Transport can be made by foot, car, bike, trailer, pipe or other means as long as milk transport conditions are taking into consideration.
iii. Changing area and toilets. A specific area should be provided for changing into protective clothing before handling foods. Protective clothing should be stored so as to prevent contamination. A footbath is not compulsory but outdoor footwear should be replaced or sanitized before entering food production areas.
iv. Food handling areas: Production, drying, maturation, refrigeration, packing and sales areas must be be maintained in such a way to ensure ease of cleaning and to reduce the risk of contamination. Premises and equipment that are poorly maintained can be a source of physical contamination and provide an environment where pathogens can colonise.
v. Walls and floors should be smooth, impervious and easy to clean. Surfaces should be free from damage such as chips, cracks, holes or flaking paint. Where possible, the floor in the production area may be disposed to facilitate drainage. In areas without a drainage gully, precautions should be taken to avoid the formation of standing water except in maturation rooms when it is poured on to the floor for technological reasons.
vi. Windows and doors should have smooth surfaces, which are easy to clean, and should be maintained in good condition. Windows which can be opened must be protected with an anti-insect mesh. Outside doors and windows must be closed correctly to avoid the ingress of dirt.
vii. Ventilation should be provided to prevent condensation and allow air exchange. Whether achieved naturally or artificially, air intake should be refrained from potential sources of contamination such as stables or barns.
viii. Machinery and tools should be easy to clean. Food contact surfaces should be made with foodgrade materials such as stainless steel or approved plastics.
ix. Area or receptacle for storage of ingredients and packaging. Adequate establishment should be provided for the storage of ingredients, in a clean, dry and temperature controlled area. This may be within the production area or in an adjacent to the dairy as long as the stated conditions of storage are fulfilled and ingredients and packaging (including bottles and glasses) are protected from contamination.
x. Cleaning area: An adequate number of easily-accessible sinks should be provided with hot and cold water supplied. Cleaning products may be kept in a separate room or a cupboard within the production area. Chemicals will be clearly marked. Tools and clean equipment can be stored in the processing room on open shelves.
xi. Packing and labelling area. This may be carried out in the processing room provided that crosscontamination is refrained.
xii. Waste handling. Food waste and non-edible by-products removed from the production areas as quickly as possible, deposited in containers and deposited in containers and disposed of in a hygienic way according to national legislation
Maintenance of Equipment and Installations
The condition of premises and equipment should be periodically inspected by the producer and maintenance work, undertaken in case of deficiency. Maintenance should preferably take place outside of production time. This may include:
? Refurbishment of items in disrepair which is due to wear and tear: repainting of walls, floors, ceilings or doors, replacement of broken or missing tiles in walls and floors, replacement of air-conditioning or refrigeration equipment filters, condition of insect screens, cleaning and maintaining of water deposits, tools, doors and windows, revision and cleaning of drainage systems electric panels and lights.
III. WATER QUALITY
Water used in farmhouse and artisan dairies can be a major source of contamination. Measures taken to ensure that water meets the criteria of Directive 98/83/EC, depend on the source of the supply.
Transport, storage or simple treatments and maintenance of the water installation
• Equipment used in the transport, storage or treatment of water must be clean, must not contaminate the water with pathogenic microorganisms and should be made of materials which will not contaminate water either with chemical substances in quantities greater than those permitted or with prohibited substances.
• Storage or transportation vessels should be covered to refrain contamination and should be kept in good condition.
• The internal water installation such as pipes and taps shall be kept in good conditions to avoid any source of contamination.
Microbiological hazards control
Microbiological quality may be guaranteed by:
? Disinfection. Where chemical disinfection is carried out, the efficiency of the treatment will be verified and the amount of disinfectant residues will be checked regularly to ensure compliance with any national limits. The concentration of disinfection by-products should be as low as possible.
? UV filtration, heat treatment, (including boiling the water) or other means. Water intended to spin the mozzarella curd is treated at 80-90ºC for technological purposes. This heat is sufficient to inactivate the microbiological hazards of concern which may be present in the water.