How to remove airborne mould spores from your bakery for product improvement
At Factory Solutions Ltd we are on a mission to remove airborne mould spores from bakeries. Spores inside sliced loaves cause premature spoilage often within 6/7 days of purchase. Mouldy bread forms a significant proportion of the 7 million tons of food thrown away by households each year in the UK.1
Sliced bread contains antimicrobials to suppress mould growth; these chemical compounds will remain in the human body for an unknown period. Removing the need for them has obvious benefits in terms of cost and possibly health.
Bakeries are regulated (by food safety law and guidelines) but are not validated environments as are pharmaceutical plants, so simply rescuing them from spore contamination with cleanroom technology will not happen. Sliced bread is a mass market, low margin product, sales have declined2,3 and there is neither a viable risk/cost benefit nor the money to justify investment.
However, improved management of the air systems and air quality throughout the bakery is the solution to this problem; this combined with intelligent input from dedicated bakery teams will ultimately be the decider. The mission to reduce mould spores in the air starts at goods inwards but proceeds right up to where sterile loaves exit the oven. From then on, protecting bread from spore contamination on the conveyors, through the cooling process and to the slicing and packing operation become critical. With area segregation, the application of careful design and hygiene management, airborne counts at the slicer will be so low that bread is packed spore-free.
Clearly there is much ‘devil in the detail’; maintaining the slicers and the bagging whilst keeping continuity of a spore free operation is vital. If the plan comes together the consumer, the distributor, the retailer all win, bread will again become a more natural and better tasting product, and more will be eaten rather than wasted.
1 WRAP report 2013 ‘Estimates of Food and Packaging Waste in the UK Grocery Retail and Hospitality Supply Chains’
2 Food Manufacture.co.uk, 30/09/14
3 The Telegraph, Luke Heighton, 10/05/2015 Traditional sliced bread makers in crisis as consumers opt for healthier alternatives