The overall goal of this project is to improve engineering methods for design and operation of commercial cooking systems in the meat and poultry industry. The specific objectives of this project are: <OL> <LI> To conduct a quantitative assessment of industry practices for thermal process design and validation.<LI>To develop a protocol for optimizing multi-stage cooking systems, based on the competing criteria of pathogen inactivation and product yield. <LI> To develop, distribute, and assess food safety training resources for thermal process engineers (in the areas of design optimization and statistical process control). <LI> To develop and offer a multi-institutional, web-based graduate certificate program in "Food Safety Engineering".
Current engineering practice for design and operation of commercial cooking systems in the meat and poultry industry is generally based on prior experience, rather than on science-based methodologies. Consequently, product safety and yield can become competing objectives. The purpose of this project is to develop engineering tools, industry training resources, and a web-based graduate certificate program, all aimed at improving engineering methods for ensuring the safety of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products. The integration of research, training, and education should enable practicing engineers to better design and operate multi-stage, commercial oven systems in a manner that can both ensure microbial safety and maximize processing yield and profitability.
The overall project plan integrates research, extension/outreach, and graduate teaching activities across three states to optimize the synergistic effects of a multi-functional project. The project tasks include (1) a survey and collaborative study assessing the uniformity and accuracy of current meat and poultry industry practice related to cooking system design and validation, (2) development and testing of an optimization protocol that will integrate new microbial inactivation models into an existing meat cooking model in order to determine the optimal design and operating conditions for multi-stage, commercial oven systems, in terms of achieving lethality performance standards and simultaneously maximizing product yield, (3) development, delivery via four existing venues, and assessment of industry training resources related to cooking system design optimization and operational consistency through statistical process control, and (4) development of a collaborative, web-based graduate certificate program in "Food Safety Engineering" that will link unique capacities at three universities. Overall, the project will integrate applied research, extension/outreach, and graduate education activities in a systems-based approach to improving the safety of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.
This is a new project (09/15/2003). It is anticipated that the tools resulting from this project will enable meat and poultry processors to increase cooking yield of ready-to-eat products while simultaneously increasing certainty in meeting performance standards for microbial safety of the products.