Meatco’s laboratory aims to guarantee outstanding quality at all times to ensure the expected standards and regulations of the end product are met.
A significant number of micro-organisms – also known as indicator-organisms – are frequently tested at Meatco due to the important role they play in assuring that the micro criteria of food products or water are met. This also indicates the quantity of bacteria present in a certain product.
Indicator organisms are organisms or a group of organisms whose number in a product reflect the success or failure of the Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) or Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) systems. On the other hand, index organisms establish the possible occurrence of pathogenic organisms in food products. For example the presence of the E. coli reflects the possible existence of Salmonella in a meat product.
Three indicator organisms tested for at the Meatco lab are Enterobacteriaceae, Coliform and E. coli. Here’s why food processing plants analyse for indicator organisms:
· To determine product shelf life;
· To meet client specifications such as that of the Republic of South Africa, Finlar food and Famous Brands, to mention a few;
· To determine food quality;
· For public health purposes; and
· To put consumers at ease.
For Meatco to continue satisfying clients’ specifications depending on the number of organisms that should be present in the meat products, it is important to conduct laboratory tests on a daily basis. This excludes tests for Enterobacteriaceae, since this is mainly tested during shelf-life studies and with Wholesale products.
Meatco’s Laboratory Manager, Kalihulu Shapwa
By conducting these tests in-house, the laboratory saves the company money (by reducing testing, transportation and packaging costs) and time by immediately notifying operations of any positive result so that the necessary corrective measures can be implemented before products are released to our customers.