Delegates at the Food Manufacture Group’s food safety conference last week heard that some smaller scale producers were less aware than they should be of the potential impact of reformulation. In the worst cases, reformulation has caused fatal food poisoning outbreaks, Dr Sandra Stringer, senior research associate at the Institute of Food Research, told the conference.
‘When you take out salt, sugar and fats …’
In this video interview, Stringer told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “When you take out salt, sugar and fats, so the water activity goes up, these will all have an impact on the ability of the bacteria to grow.
“Therefore, you will change the ability of them to grow to a level, which leads them to cause food poisoning. Or, you have to reduce the shelf-life to make sure they cannot get to that level.”
Manufacturers should consider each food and each pathogen individually to try to work out whether it could create food safety risks or not, she added.
Risks of reformulation
While large manufacturers and some smaller companies well understood the risks, others lacked the expertise to calculate accurately the risks of reformulation, said Stringer.
A key factor influencing risk was the type of food concerned. Removing sugar, salt and fats from dry food, such as biscuits, or canned or frozen products will not make the food more prone to the growth of bacteria, which could cause food poisoning.
The food safety conference – Safe and legal food in a changing world – was sponsored by: ACO Buildling Drainage, Activate Lubricants, AON, Detectamet, FFP Packaging Solutions, the Food Advanced Training Partnership and the Institute of Food Research.
It took place at the Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon, Warwickshire on Thursday October 15.