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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Food Safety

Dec 22, 2007
The Big Clean-up
A recent food poisoning outbreak hit over 200 people who ate PrimaDeli's cakes. The company was given the green light to resume operations yesterday, after an 11-day clean-up and inspection process. DIANA OTHMAN and SUMATHI V. SELVARETNAM look at the process.


CLEAN SWEEP: Samples were taken from various surfaces at the factory. -- PHOTO: PRIMADELI

Step 1: All-out efforts to disinfect factory over 11 days
OPERATIONS at PrimaDeli's factory in Keppel Road come to a halt on Dec 4 for a complete disinfection of the premises.

Prima hired cleaning specialists to conduct the massive round-the-clock clean-up from Dec 5 to 16.

All surface materials were stripped off.

Ceilings, floors, walls and production equipment were washed with a high-pressure jet and wiped clean with a sanitiser concentrate to remove all possible sources of microbial infection.

Airborne disinfectants were used throughout the factory.

Dressed in protective gear to stop them from 'shedding' their own germs or contaminants onto the site, six officers from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) descended upon PrimaDeli's 1,080 sq m food production facility at Keppel Road on Monday.

In two hours, a total of 75 swab samples were taken at the buns, pastry and cakes section of the factory.

Samples were collected from any area where there was any possible contact with food.

This included preparation table tops, kitchen utensils and equipment such as ovens and trays.

The handles of toilet doors and doors to preparation rooms were also swabbed.

The samples collected were sent to AVA's Veterinary Public Health Centre in Lim Chu Kang for testing.


Step 2: Tests on samples to ensure tip-top hygiene


STRINGENT TESTING: Scientists at AVA's Veterinary Public Health Centre checking swab samples for the presence of bacteria. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

View more photos

IN A microbiology laboratory at AVA's Veterinary Public Health Centre, swab samples go through two main tests:

a hygiene indicator - to check how clean they are;

and salmonella detection - to search for any of the germs responsble for outbreak of food poisoning.
The hygiene indicator test reveals the amount of bacteria in the samples.

It also indicates if there are any suspicious germs present.

To carry it out, swab samples are diluted and spread on agar dishes containing nutrients for bacteria growth.

The dishes are placed in different incubators with temperatures ranging between 35 and 44.5 deg C, for two to three days.

In the salmonella detection test, swab samples are screened in an automated machine.

The machine does DNA fingerprinting to identify the unique salmonella strain.

The AVA will allow PrimaDeli and its 39 franchise outlets to open only if laboratory investigations reveal a complete absence of salmonella.

The hygiene indicator levels must also pass muster, that is, the bacteria count should be low and free of any harmful pathogens.


Step 3: Factory can reopen after checks for safety lapses
THE results on Thursday showed that the samples collected were satisfactory in terms of hygiene and that salmonella was no longer present.
The PrimaDeli factory also has to comply with international food safety requirements.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) was engaged in helping the factory review the processes that it uses to check for errors and safety lapses.

The factory passed this second hurdle yesterday.

The AVA gave PrimaDeli the go-ahead to produce items made under high heat, such as cakes without cream, crusty breads, tarts and cookies.

It also allowed PrimaDeli to produce frozen dough that can then be baked at the latter's outlets.

Full factory operations will resume when the AVA is satisfied that hygiene standards are maintained.

PrimaDeli will then be able to bake cakes with cream toppings and other un-baked ingredients.

The company has decided to take things slowly and produce just frozen dough until it is granted permission to resume full factory operations.



Step 3: Factory can reopen after checks for safety lapses
THE results on Thursday showed that the samples collected were satisfactory in terms of hygiene and that salmonella was no longer present.
The PrimaDeli factory also has to comply with international food safety requirements.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) was engaged in helping the factory review the processes that it uses to check for errors and safety lapses.

The factory passed this second hurdle yesterday.

The AVA gave PrimaDeli the go-ahead to produce items made under high heat, such as cakes without cream, crusty breads, tarts and cookies.

It also allowed PrimaDeli to produce frozen dough that can then be baked at the latter's outlets.

Full factory operations will resume when the AVA is satisfied that hygiene standards are maintained.

PrimaDeli will then be able to bake cakes with cream toppings and other un-baked ingredients.

The company has decided to take things slowly and produce just frozen dough until it is granted permission to resume full factory operations.

Step 3: Factory can reopen after checks for safety lapses
THE results on Thursday showed that the samples collected were satisfactory in terms of hygiene and that salmonella was no longer present.
The PrimaDeli factory also has to comply with international food safety requirements.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) was engaged in helping the factory review the processes that it uses to check for errors and safety lapses.

The factory passed this second hurdle yesterday.

The AVA gave PrimaDeli the go-ahead to produce items made under high heat, such as cakes without cream, crusty breads, tarts and cookies.

It also allowed PrimaDeli to produce frozen dough that can then be baked at the latter's outlets.

Full factory operations will resume when the AVA is satisfied that hygiene standards are maintained.

PrimaDeli will then be able to bake cakes with cream toppings and other un-baked ingredients.

The company has decided to take things slowly and produce just frozen dough until it is granted permission to resume full factory operations.

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