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RULE §217.78Supplemental Requirements for Plants Manufacturing, Processing, and Packaging Pasteurized Process Cheese and Related Products

(a) Equipment and utensils - General construction, repair, and installation. All equipment and utensils necessary to the manufacture of pasteurized process cheese and related products shall meet the same general requirements as outlined in §217.74 of this title (relating to Requirements for Milk Plants Producing Dairy Products). In addition for certain other equipment, the following requirements shall be met.

  (1) Conveyors. Conveyors shall be constructed of material which can be cleaned, will not rust or otherwise contaminate the cheese, and maintained in good repair.

  (2) Grinders or shredders. The grinders or shredders used in the preparation of the trimmed and cleaned natural cheese for the cookers shall be adequate in size. Product-contact surfaces shall be of corrosion-resistant material, and of such construction as to prevent contamination of the cheese and allow thorough cleaning of all parts and product-contact surfaces.

  (3) Cookers. The cookers shall be the steam jacketed or direct steam type. They shall be constructed of stainless steel or other equally corrosion-resistant material. All product-contact surfaces shall be readily accessible for cleaning. Each cooker shall be equipped with an indicating thermometer and a temperature recording device. The recording thermometer stem may be placed in the cooker if satisfactory time charts are used; if not, the stem shall be placed in the hotwell or filler hopper. Steam check valves on direct steam type cookers shall be mounted flush with cooker wall, be constructed of stainless steel and designed to prevent the backup of product into the steam line, or the steam line shall be constructed of stainless steel pipes and fittings which can be readily cleaned. If direct steam is applied to the product, only culinary steam shall be used.

  (4) Fillers. The hoppers of all fillers shall be covered, but the cover may have sight ports. If necessary, the hopper may have an agitator to prevent buildup on side walls. The filler valves and head shall be kept in good repair, capable of accurate measurements.

(b) Operations and operating procedures.

  (1) Trimming and cleaning. Natural cheese shall be cleaned free of all nonedible portions. Paraffin and bandages as well as rind surface, mold, unclean areas, or any other part which could contaminate or adulterate the product, shall be removed.

  (2) Cooking the batch. Each batch of cheese within the cooker, including the optional ingredients, shall be thoroughly commingled and the contents cooked at a temperature of at least 158 degrees Fahrenheit and held at that temperature for not less than 30 seconds. Care shall be taken to prevent the entrance of cheese particles or ingredients after the cooker batch of cheese has reached the final heating temperature. After holding for the required period of time, the hot cheese shall be emptied from the cooker as quickly as possible.

  (3) Forming containers. Containers, either lined or unlined, shall be assembled and stored in a sanitary manner to prevent contamination in accordance with 3-A Sanitary Standards. The handling of containers by filler crews shall be done with extreme care and observance of personal cleanliness. Preforming and assembling of pouch liners and containers shall be kept to a minimum and the supply rotated to limit the length of time containers are exposed to possible contamination prior to filling.

  (4) Filling containers. Hot fluid cheese from the cookers may be held in hot wells or hoppers to ensure a constant and even supply of processed cheese to the filler or slice former. Filler valves shall effectively measure the desired amount of product into the pouch or containers in a sanitary manner and shall cut off sharply without drip or drag of cheese across the opening. A system shall be used to maintain weight control. Damaged packages shall be removed from production. The cheese may be salvaged into sanitary containers and added back to cookers.

  (5) Closing and sealing containers. Pouches, liners, or containers having product-contact surfaces after filling shall be folded or closed and sealed in a sanitary manner, preferably by mechanical means, to ensure against contamination. Each container shall be coded in such a manner to be easily identified as to date of manufacture by lot or sublot number.

Source Note: The provisions of this §217.78 adopted to be effective July 4, 2010, 35 TexReg 3038

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