<<Prev Rule

Texas Administrative Code

Next Rule>>
RULE §217.77Supplemental Requirements for Plants Manufacturing and Packaging Cheese

(a) Sanitation and construction requirements. Effective six months after adoption of these rules, facilities shall be constructed and maintained in compliance with §217.74 of this title (relating to Requirements for Milk Plants Producing Dairy Products). In addition, the following requirements shall be met.

  (1) Rooms and compartments.

    (A) Starter rooms. Starter rooms or areas shall be properly equipped and maintained for the propagation and handling of starter cultures. All necessary precautions shall be taken to prevent contamination of starter, of the room, equipment, and the air therein (such as filtered air, locked doors, and entry by only specified personnel).

    (B) Make rooms. The rooms, or areas, in which the cheese is manufactured shall be of adequate size and the vats adequately spaced to permit movement around the vats and presses for proper cleaning and satisfactory working conditions. Adequate ventilation shall be provided.

    (C) Drying rooms. If cheese is to be paraffined, a drying room, or area, of adequate size shall be provided to accommodate the maximum production of cheese during the flush period. Shelving and air circulation shall be provided for proper drying. Temperature and humidity control facilities shall be provided.

    (D) Paraffining rooms. For rind cheese, a separate room or compartment shall be provided for paraffining and boxing the cheese. The room or compartment shall be of adequate size and the temperature maintained near the temperature of the drying room to avoid sweating of the cheese prior to paraffining.

    (E) Rindless block wrapping area. For rindless blocks, a space shall be provided for proper wrapping and boxing of the cheese. The area shall be free from dust, condensation, mold or other conditions which may contaminate the surface of the cheese or contribute to an unsatisfactory packaging of the cheese.

    (F) Coolers or curing rooms. Coolers, curing rooms, or areas where cheese is held for curing or storage shall be clean and maintained at the uniform temperature and humidity to protect the cheese. Circulation of air shall be maintained at all times. The rooms shall be free from rodents, insects, and pests. The shelves shall be kept clean and dry.

    (G) Cutting and packaging rooms. When small packages of cheese are cut and wrapped, a separate room, or area, shall be provided for the cleaning and preparation of the bulk cheese. In addition, a separate room shall be provided for the cutting and wrapping operation. The rooms shall be well lighted, ventilated, and provided with filtered air. Air movement shall be outward to minimize the entrance of unfiltered air into the cutting and packaging room.

  (2) Equipment and utensils--General construction, repair, and installation. All equipment and utensils necessary to the manufacture of cheese and related products shall meet the same general requirements as outlined in §217.74 of this title. In addition, for certain other equipment, the following requirements shall be met.

    (A) Starter vats. Bulk starter vats shall be of stainless steel or equally corrosion-resistant metal and shall be in good repair, equipped with tight-fitting lids and have adequate temperature controls such as valves or indicating and/or recording thermometers. New vats shall be constructed according to the applicable 3-A Sanitary Standards.

    (B) Cheese vats.

      (i) The vats used for making cheese shall be of metal construction with adequate jacket capacity for uniform heating in accordance with 3-A Sanitary Standards. The inner liner shall be minimum 16-gauge stainless steel or other equally corrosion-resistant metal, properly pitched from side to center and from rear to front for adequate drainage. The liner shall be smooth, free from excessive dents or creases and shall extend over the edge of the outer jacket. The outer jacket, when metal, shall be constructed of stainless steel or other metal which can be kept clean and sanitary. The junction of the liner and outer jackets shall be constructed to prevent milk or cheese from entering the inner jacket.

      (ii) The vat shall be equipped with a suitable sanitary outlet valve. Effective valves shall be provided and properly maintained to control the application of heat to the vat.

    (C) Mechanical agitators. The mechanical agitators shall be of sanitary construction. The carriage and track shall be constructed to prevent the dropping of dirt or grease into the vat. Metal blades, forks, or stirrers shall be constructed of stainless steel and of material approved in the 3-A Sanitary Standards for Plastic and Rubber or Rubberlike Materials, and shall be free from rough or sharp edges which might scratch the equipment or remove metal particles.

    (D) Curd mill and miscellaneous equipment. Knives, hand rakes, shovels, paddles, strainers, and miscellaneous equipment shall be stainless steel or of material approved in the 3-A Sanitary Standards for Plastic and Rubberlike Material. The product-contact surfaces of the curd mill shall be of stainless steel. All pieces of equipment shall be so constructed that they can be kept clean. The wires in the curd knives shall be stainless steel, kept tight and replaced when necessary. All guards shall be in place.

    (E) Hoops and followers. The hoops, forms, and followers shall be constructed of stainless steel, heavy tinned steel, or other approved suitable material in accordance with 3-A Sanitary Standards. If tinned, they shall be kept tinned and free from rust. All hoops, forms, and followers shall be kept in good repair. Drums or other special forms used to press and store cheese shall be clean and sanitary.

    (F) Press. The cheese press shall be constructed of stainless steel or other approved material and all surfaces, seams, and openings readily cleanable. The pressure device shall be the continuous type. Press cloths shall be maintained in good repair and in a sanitary condition. Single-service press cloths shall be used only once.

    (G) Rindless cheese press. The press used to heat-seal the wrapper applied to rindless cheese shall have square interior corners, reasonably smooth interior surface and controls that shall provide uniform pressure and heat equally to all surfaces.

    (H) Paraffin tanks. The metal tank shall be adequate in size, have wood rather than metal racks to support the cheese, heat controls, and an indicating thermometer. The cheese wax shall be kept clean.

(b) Operations and operating procedures.

  (1) Cheese from pasteurized milk. When pasteurization is required, or when a product is designated "pasteurized," every particle of the milk or milk product shall be subjected to such temperatures and holding periods in properly designed and operated equipment to ensure proper pasteurization of the product in accordance with the most current revision of the U.S. Public Health Service, FDA, Grade A Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. Provided, that nothing shall be construed as barring any other process found equivalent to pasteurization for milk and milk products, which has been recognized by FDA as provided in 21 U.S.C. §343(h)(3) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Only such FDA recognized processes and no other shall be considered by the department.

  (2) Cheese from unpasteurized milk shall conform to the processing and aging requirements of the most current revision of Title 21, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 133.

  (3) Whey disposal.

    (A) Adequate sanitary facilities shall be provided for the disposal of whey. If outside, necessary precautions shall be taken to minimize flies, insects, and objectionable odors.

    (B) Whey or whey products intended for human food shall at all times be handled in a sanitary manner in accordance with the procedures of this subpart as specified for handling milk and dairy products.

  (4) Packaging and repackaging. Packaging rindless cheese or cutting and repackaging all styles of bulk cheese shall be conducted under sanitary conditions. The atmosphere of the packaging rooms, the equipment and the packaging material shall be free from mold and bacterial contamination.

  (5) General identification. Each bulk cheese shall be legibly marked with the name of the product, code or date of manufacture, vat number, officially designated code number or name and address of manufacturer. Each consumer sized container shall be plainly marked with the name and address of the manufacturer, packer or distributor, net weight of the contents, and name of product.

Source Note: The provisions of this §217.77 adopted to be effective July 4, 2010, 35 TexReg 3038

Link to Texas Secretary of State Home Page | link to Texas Register home page | link to Texas Administrative Code home page | link to Open Meetings home page