5 Questions with Amy Bethel, Marketing Leader, Nestlé Quality Assurance Center Dublin

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Food safety is non-negotiable for food manufacturers, and cooking label instructions are an integral part of food safety management for non-ready-to-eat products. Amy Bethel from NQAC Dublin explains why accurate cooking instructions are an important part of delivering safe and high-quality products to consumers.

April 4, 2022

1. What is a cooking instruction validation?

Our laboratory uses a post-cook thermal process methodology to validate the cooking instructions on your product label. The samples will be heated according to your provided instructions, then thermocouples are placed throughout the sample and monitored for a minimum of two minutes. For the validation to be successful, the product must meet targeted bacterial log reduction. If all ingredients have a prior control step, the targeted success criteria are 165 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 seconds or equivalent and is based off a 2-log reduction in Listeria monocytogenes. If the product contains any raw ingredients, a 6-log reduction is targeted. Depending on product specifics, different microorganisms or log reductions can be used. The goal is to ensure the product will be sufficiently heated to destroy any key pathogenic bacteria which may be present in the food.

2. My products are very similar, is validation required for each one?

There isn’t a one-size-fits all set of instructions for every product or even similar ones, sometimes seemingly small differences can create different temperature results.

3. Can cooking instructions be written and validated for a brand-new product?

Our team can use a variety of common household cooking appliances to create instructions from scratch. We will trial different temperatures and conditions to achieve your targeted quality and safety criteria.

4. Does the validation process take into consideration sensory attributes?

Although the first goal of cooking validation is food safety, we also keep in mind sensory attributes that are appealing to your customer. If your instructions result in a product of less desired quality or fail to produce a safe product, our team will trial different conditions and temperatures to suggest a way forward.

5. Is a cooking instruction validation necessary if my manufacturing processes have been validated?

Thermal process validation of a line and cooking instruction validation are two different complementary processes. If your product is considered not ready to eat, it is important for you to instruct consumers on how to properly cook while achieving acceptable temperatures for food safety and sensory attributes.