Produce Processing

May/June 2021

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20 M A Y / J U N E 2 0 2 1 Shutting the door on product quality problems NEXT-GENERATION DOOR SYSTEMS HELP CONTROL ENERGY COSTS WHILE KEEPING PRODUCE SAFE A PRODUCE PROCESSING operation ca n i nvolve at lea st t h ree sub - environments under its roof. At minimum, fruits and vegetables at the docks come into the processing facility from the field and shipped. In between, produce can be chopped, cooked, frozen, cleaned, bottled or processed into a new product. Protecting food quality along the mate r ia l-ha nd l i ng c ha i n, wh ic h ca n have heav y t raff ic, in such environments requires the right kind of doors. When adding other non-produce ingredients, the process becomes even more complicated. The goal for these operations is preventing the airborne pathogens that can ride along with the raw material coming in through the receiving dock door from becoming part of the packaged product when it goes out the door. At the same time, certain areas within the facility need to maintain temperature levels to attain desired product quality levels. Here are the conditions that exist in the processing plant that management needs to address in order to prevent cross- conta mination a nd protect product quality. Keeping pathogens in their place In many cases, product arrives on the receiving dock raw from the field with the dirt, contamination and micro- organisms that exist in the outside world and are ready to go airborne once picked up by building positive or negative pressures. While we're on the topic of invaders, pests can be a problem. The 8-by-10- foot doorways at receiving docks are rarely closed in busy facilities, as one truck after another pulls up to unload. Though the open end of the truck is enveloped with dock seals and shelters, there still can be gaps which enable entrance for insects. No processing process is totally closed-circuit and, at some point, there is product exposure to the atmosphere. For these intruders, the high-speed doors leading into the processing area prevent most of these contaminants from going any further than the dock. Tight sealing where the door meets the doorway also blocks these attacks on product quality. Keeping cool or freezing Cold air is a valuable commodity in processing operations to prevent pathogen growth and product spoilage, but it is costly as well. To protect both the product and the energy budget, door design should guard against energy loss. That means the doors leading into processing operations must provide a tight seal. For freezer environments, By Josh Brown Guest columnist FA CIL I T Y O P ER AT I O NS C L I M AT E C O N T R O L High-speed fabric rollup door provides quick doorway access on walls with tight space.

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