Just like in any other food companies chocolate companies have to observe food safety right from the raw material to the finished product. There are several steps used in the manufacture of chocolates and at each step there is the risk of contamination, so chocolate manufacturers need to ensure food safety at all times.
Cleanliness for Food Safety
Cleanliness is the key to reducing any food safety risk and personnel working in the chocolate facility must be provided overalls, hairnets, disposable gloves and even face masks. No materials must be brought into the food production area that can cause contamination. All machinery, equipment and containers that come in direct contact with the chocolate must be cleaned frequently as the build-up of chocolate in the machinery from several batches is a food safety risk. Also if the machinery is being used for the manufacture of other food products then before switching food items the machinery and equipment must be thoroughly cleaned especially if allergenic foods like peanuts and nuts are used.
Raw Material Food Safety
Raw cocoa beans used for making chocolates can get contaminated with salmonella and E. coli bacteria. Chocolate companies roast or steam the cocoa beans to prevent contamination. Since cocoa beans can contain insect parts, hair, etc. they need to be inspected thoroughly prior to receiving heat treatment. Raw untreated beans and treated beans must be stored separately to prevent any kind of cross contamination. While heat treatment is sufficient to destroy salmonella even in high moisture foods but combination of high fat and high sugar content in chocolate allows salmonella to become resistant to heat treatment and so contamination can occur. The cocoa beans need to be roasted at temperatures between 1050C and 1200C to destroy these pathogens and also there is a need for in process food testing to eliminate food safety risk.
Storage Food Safety
Raw beans, other ingredients and finished product need to be stored in a cool and dry warehouses well protected from entry of rodents and insects and inspected regularly for signs of infestation. Alternatively the food products can also be refrigerated. One important aspect is that storage floors also must have safe temperatures as some products remain on the floor during packaging or processing. Chocolates have a long shelf life and are usually prepared much in advance however, since they can grow mould they must be inspected from time to time.
Chocolate companies can eliminate the risk of food safety by following the strict quality control at all the critical points.
- Raw material must be visually inspected and tested for chemicals on receipt
- All equipment used for splitting, grinding, conching and tempering must be sanitised and personal hygiene maintained
- Fermentation tanks and moulding equipment cleaned and maintained
- During drying visual inspection, time and temperature must be observed
- During roasting correct temperature and time must be maintained
- Before packaging chocolates must pass through metal detectors and packaging must be carried out in aseptic conditions.