Clean Cans: Cracking Open the Craft Beer Market

Clean Cans: Cracking Open the Craft Beer MarketCraft beer is a big deal — according to Research and Markets, the craft industry is headed for huge growth over the next four years. It’s no surprise, then, that breweries are popping up across the country, each trying to be the next “big thing”. Consider the rise of alcoholic root beer; last year, Americans spent more than $111 million on this sweet and spirited beverage. The problem? Speed-to-market may breed problems with sanitation: How do companies make sure their canning and bottling processes are always squeaky-clean?

Forward The FDA

With the craft beer market bubbling over, government oversight is also on the rise. According to Orchestrated Beer, one key piece of legislation that may impact breweries is the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This FDA law quietly passed back in January 2011 to minimal fanfare and limited impact — not really shocking since it’s actually the latest in a line of amendments to the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938.

Why does it matter now? Because the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) can call in the FDA if there’s any indication a batch of beer has been “adulterated” or may present a health risk to consumers. Next steps include a health hazard assessment, voluntary product recall or more substantial penalties. Specifically, the FSMA “requires food facilities to evaluate potential hazards, implement and monitor precautionary measures to prevent contamination, and create plans to take any necessary corrective actions.” With the TTB set to audit every brewery in the country by the end of 2016, it’s worth evaluating current sanitization process before the FDA comes calling.

Safe and Sudsy

While it’s one thing to know that FDA rules may impact craft brewers — and that more breweries in the market mean increased oversight — it’s another to implement day-to-day cleaning processes which are both cost-effective and meet current standards.

Consider the evolving nature of craft brewers; with commercial-grade technology now available to even small-batch companies, the road from homebrew to retail market is shorter than ever. The problem? There’s a big jump between “clean enough” and “FSMA approved”. The canning and bottling process is a good example: Companies need a solution that won’t slow production but offer the same kind of professional-grade quality as their brewing equipment.

Here, the key is specialization, such as a heavy-duty dry vapor steam cleaning solution. There are several advantages for such a system for craft beer makers. For example, dry steam dissipates almost instantly on contact while still completely clean canning and bottling machinery. Better still, new portable offerings mean that no matter how your brewery is structured — perhaps you enjoyed a well-planned machinery and market expansion or perhaps your facility has grown more “organically” —  you can reach every nook and cranny and ensure you’re always in compliance. Little brews are a big deal.

Breaking Box — Upscale Wine Market Ready for Cardboard Cabernet?

American wines have secured a spot on the world stage — as noted by NBC News, it’s been 40 years since the “Judgment of Paris” which saw new-breed California wineries triumph over established French classics. American winemakers haven’t stopped innovating and are now spearheading a move to boxed wines on an even playing field with the best in the business. But are consumers and wine experts ready for upscale boxes of Cabernet and Merlot?

The Cardboard Conundrum

Boxed wines got their start in Australia more than 50 years ago thanks to winemaker Penfolds. The company developed a cardboard box and plastic bladder system which both dramatically lowered production costs and came with the added benefit of keeping wine fresh much longer — what could possibly go wrong?

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Vapor Steam Cleaning Part of The Science of Safe Wine and Barrel Sanitation

Vapor Steam Cleaner

GVC-18000 industrial dry vapor steam cleaner

Americans love wine. According to the Wine Institute, reds and whites consumed across the United States totaled 893 million gallons in 2014 — that’s an average of 2.80 gallons per person, per year. But it takes more than good grapes and a skilled vintner to ensure both traditional and cutting-edge wine blends are safe for human consumption: Here’s a quick look at the science of safe wine.

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Fire With Fire: Scientists Using Bacteria to Fight Bad Food

Fire-With-FireDespite advances in food manufacturing, handling and equipment policies, foodborne illness remains a critical concern for producers. According to the CDC, in fact, approximately 1 in 6 — 48 million — Americans are made sick by foodborne diseases each year. Of these, more than 100,000 are hospitalized and 3000 don’t survive. Bottom line? Companies need ways to take the fight to bad food; here’s a look at two of the most promising battle fronts.

Plant Probiotics

At the University of Delaware, researchers are investigating a way to make food-bearing plants more resistant to human-harmful strains of bacteria. Their solution? A kind of “plant probiotic”, a bacterial strain which is completely harmless to humans but helps plants fend off pathogens such as listeria. Known as strain UD1022, the bacteria has demonstrated the ability to reduce the persistence of listeria within three days of application by regulating the behavior of plant stomata — which open and close as plants breathe and give off water. In addition, initial testing suggests that the regulation of stomata could help increase the longevity of plants by causing them to lose less water over time. Ideally, the new bacteria will prevent high-risk bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella from “hiding” in plants, even after they’ve been thoroughly washed.

Laser Focus

In China, meanwhile, scientists at Zhejiang Normal University along with researchers from Umea University in Sweden are looking at another way to detect foodborne pathogens: Lasers. Their work focuses on the risks of using food past “best before” dates and the possibility that food may spoil long before these dates pass, even if the packaging is intact. Why? Because the factors driving bacteria growth vary from package to package and product to product, making “best before” and “use by” dates a law-of-averages guessing game. Their new tool uses optical spectrometry to detect the presence of specific gases given off by bacterial growth — such as carbon dioxide — through glass or plastic packaging. Ideally, the laser solution could help both food manufacturers and medical companies ensure that any bacterial-prone product is safe for consumption before being sold.

Firm Foundation

Of course, custom bacteria and laser tools make little difference if production lines don’t keep up their end of the bargain and introduce foodborne illnesses during the manufacturing or packaging process. As a result, it’s a combination of high-tech advances and solid best practices — such as the installation of dry vapor belt cleaning systems or regular use of heavy-duty vapor steam cleaners — which deliver ideal process results. The end goal? From farm to factory to franchise, food that’s bacteria-free, healthy and high-quality.

Next Steps

Going Green? Your Restroom Cleaning Plan

Think your restroom is clean? Think again. Public and commercial bathrooms contain “too many bacteria to count.”

public toiletThat’s the designation applied when there are more than 250 colony-forming units per millimeter – in the case of high-traffic restrooms, the number approaches 1000. Yuck.

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Bed Bugs Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple

They’re baaaaack . . . 

It’s official: bed bugs have moved in and made themselves at home in the Pacific Investment Management Company’s (PIMCO) New York office.

Baby bedbugHundreds of employees have been evacuated from the building, with many worried they might carry the blood-sucking pests home to friends and family, according to Fox Business.

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Summertime and the Bed Bugs Are Bitin’

Does just thinking about bed bugs make your skin crawl? Well, get ready because now that the hot weather is here, those little buggers are out in full force.

Baby bedbugFor example, late last week a New Hampshire summer camp shut down for the rest of the season because of a bed bug infestation in the boys’ cabins.

The camp will undergo extensive extermination treatment including the replacement of bed frames and mattresses, and a thorough steam cleaning of all surfaces.

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Overcoming Equipment Sanitation Challenges in the Food/Beverage Industry

In the food and beverage industry, a surface is considered “clean” if it is free of food residue, bad odors and grease. Additionally the surface should be sanitized and free of microorganisms.

Empty bottles on factory conveyor belt (long exposure)An effective cleaning and sanitation program is essential in food and beverage production facilities. If the program is not followed, there is a risk that the food and/or beverages could become contaminated by microorganisms.

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Revised ACR Provides Useful Tool for Effective HVAC Maintenance

iStock_000022196514SmallIn 2013 the NADCA (National Air Duct Cleaners Association) released a revised ACR, the Standard for the Assessment, Cleaning, and Restoration of HVAC Systems.

The ACR standard establishes the minimum performance requirements for assessing new and existing HVAC systems; evaluating the cleanliness of HVAC system components; determining the need to clean; and cleaning and restoring systems to a verifiable cleanliness level.

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Listeria Forces Washington Seafood Processor to Cease Operations

In March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered a Seattle, Washington processor of smoked fish products to stop operating, requiring the manufacturer to completely cease processing, preparing, packing or distributing any food at its facility.

production of minced meatThe manufacturer, Jensen’s Old Fashioned Smokehouse Inc., provides private-label foods to high-profile retailers including Wal-Mart and Target.

The FDA had analyzed some samples it collected during an inspection at the company’s facility. The samples confirmed there was Listeria monocytogenes at the plant, including in the company’s food processing and storage areas.

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