Bakery Needs Hygiene

These days, to establish a successful bakery business, it is crucial to ensure hygiene in all layers of production, distribution and retailing. And this is possible only when food handlers involved in the bakery supply chain are adequately trained


Bakery products are items of mass consumption. Their acceptance in India has increased over the years because of various factors. The significant increases in disposable incomes in select but sizeable pockets of urban Indian society during the last decade-and-a-half; changing eating habits of people; growth in the number of nuclear families in urban India with less time to cook at home being only some of them.

In India, there are more than 2,000 organised  and semi-organised bakeries, and 1,000,000 unorganised small-scale bakeries. Bread and biscuits are the most popular bakery items in the country and account for more than 80 percent of the total bakery products in India. In fact, India is the world’s second-largest producer of biscuits after the US.

According to the report by IMARC Group, titled ‘Indian Bakery Market: Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2018-2023’, the Indian bakery market reached a value of more than 6 billion USD during 2017.

The bakery sector comprises the largest segment of the food processing sector in India and offers huge potential for growth, according to the guidance document produced by FSSAI, which was published in October 2017.

Healthy Bakery

Trends in India’s bakery business continue towards lighter, healthier products, and those containing allergen-free, organic, and whole-grain ingredients, states the above-mentioned guidance document.

Interest in inclusions and fortification continues to increase among consumers of baked goods in India. The use of whole and alternative grains and grain products also continues to drive new product development in the Indian bakery industry. In response to the demand for products that are free from gluten and other allergens, baked goods using flours made from buckwheat, quinoa, millet, amaranth, flax, corn, rice, sorghum, wild rice, and other non-wheat grains remain a popular trend in India’s bakery industry .

These flours offer tastes and textures that are uniquely different from wheat flours, which also serve the trend towards more types of artisan and handcrafted breads.

Hygiene Matters

Besides emphasis on healthy bakery products, India’s bakery industry is also becoming more serious about safety and hygiene. Thankfully, the importance of hygiene in food service has increased over the years along with greater focus on healthy food items.

In fact, in some cases, emphasis on sanitation and hygiene and focus on preparing healthy food are co-related. Sanitation, for example, is an absolute necessity while producing gluten-free products because even slight gluten contamination can make such ‘gluten-free products’ unsuitable for consumption for people suffering from certain diseases.

Commercial bakeries that produce gluten-free products must maintain strict sanitation standards to avoid contamination, especially if products containing gluten are also produced in the same bakeries.

Overall, the issues of safety and hygiene are extremely important for the bakery industry for several reasons. First of all, without maintaining hygiene in the production process, distribution and in the retail space pertaining to bakery business, it is next to impossible to provide safe bakery items for consumption on a long-term basis.

Following the hygiene rules is critical to avoid contamination of the products with harmful microbial organisms. Putting adequate hygiene norms in place is also important for extending shelf-life of products, which again is very critical from the bakery business point of view.

This is because bakers generally work with highly perishable raw materials including milk and other dairy products. In the absence of strict hygiene standards, products made with such perishable materials are likely to have very short shelf life, increasing the chances of spoilage of bakery products. Therefore, to establish an enduringly successful bakery business, it is extremely crucial to ensure hygiene in all layers of production, distribution and retailing.

Underlining the importance of hygiene in the Indian bakery industry, Pawan Agarwal, CEO, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), in a guidance document on food safety management system, said, “It is important that food handlers involved in the bakery supply chain are trained appropriately to implement the good manufacturing practices and good hygiene practices to ensure food safety.”

The key issues that the Indian bakery industry is facing include the need for improvements in hygienic practices as well as technology apart from availability of skilled manpower at all levels of bakery operations, says the document.

Improving hygiene practices can be said to be a key driver for the growth of the Indian bakery industry.

Maintaining Hygiene in Bakeries

To maintain hygiene in bakery establishments and ensure safety of the products, one needs to have a holistic approach. This is because hygiene issues encompass almost every aspect of the production process.

For example, it may not be possible to follow the right hygiene standards if a bakery production facility is found to be wanting in having adequate provisions for ventilation and windows in areas where the workers carry out their duties, or, for that matter, found wanting in having well-maintained toilets.

Bakery establishments should also have impeccable provisions for storing food and packaging materials in appropriate areas for effective protection from dust, condensation, drains, waste and other sources of contamination during storage.

It is also crucial for storage areas to be kept dry and well ventilated. Attention should also be paid to have the products stored as per their temperature and humidity requirements and in specific sections. It is also important to make the employees aware about all the allergic foods or ingredients and they should be stored at a designated area. It also helps to label the raw materials that are allergens with a tag that states ‘Allergens.’

“Thorough cleaning should be there between allergic containing product manufacture and non-allergic containing product manufacture,” states the FSSAI guidance document.

It also states that the baking room should be cleaned periodically, followed by mopping with 500 ppm (parts per million) sodium hypochlorite solution or other appropriate odourless floor cleaners. It is necessary to keep the baking room dry. Similarly, the cake cooling trolleys also need to be mopped daily with 500 ppm sodium hypochlorite solution.

The equipments, utensils and other tools used in handling food products should also be cleaned and sanitised whenever necessary.

Bakeries also should not ignore hygiene at the packaging stage as using damaged, defective or contaminated packaging materials may lead to contamination of the product/s. In order to prevent packaging-related contamination, it is important to inspect food packaging material before use. Moreover, the packaging surfaces should be kept clean and sanitised for high-risk products, at all times.

The FSSAI recommends that to avoid contamination of the products, wrapping and packaging operations need to be carried out in a hygienic manner.

When it comes to cakes or pies, the packaging room should be air-conditioned. And when it becomes necessary to handle naked cakes manually, food handlers should use sterilised gloves or disinfect their hands with disinfectant solution.

Parts of the packaging machines that come in contact with the food handlers should  be cleaned daily with 500 ppm hypochlorite solution, according to the FSSAI guidance document.

To protect food stuff from contamination, it is also important to keep conveyances or containers used for transporting food stuffs clean, and maintain them in good repair condition.

But it is also important to keep in mind that the cleaning chemicals should be food grade, handled and used carefully, in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions.

Moreover, food handlers should be trained adequately to ensure that cleaning and sanitising chemicals do not contaminate food or packaging materials during or after cleaning and sanitising.

Pest Control

Having comprehensive pest control measures is another important aspect of maintaining hygiene in bakery establishments as contact of disease-bearing pests such as rodents, cockroaches, or even flies, with food ingredients may lead to contamination and may endanger food safety. Food can act as a carrier of diseases caused by pests who have the ability to fit in compact spaces and survive in adverse conditions.

When it comes to pest control, it is important to have a preventive approach, along with a system to detect and eliminate pests, in case they gain entry.

But an effective application of multiple pest management strategies requires an understanding of different types of pests on the part of those in charge of the production process. They should also evaluate the economical and safe ways to controlling pests. In fact, controlling the pest requires the cooperation of all the employees involved.

Therefore, the new employees in a given bakery unit should also be adequately educated about the pest management programme in place at the bakery unit and on how he or she could contribute to that programme.

But pesticides used in pest control measures should be “registered under the Environment Protection Act, 1986”, the FSSAI guidance document states. It is also important for the food operator to maintain all records regarding pest control including pesticides / insecticides used along with dates and their frequency of use.

Waste Disposal is Must

The waste disposal system also contributes greatly to the hygiene maintenance of a bakery. It is important for these establishments to not allow food waste, non-edible by products and other refuse to be accumulated in food handling or storage areas.

Food waste should ideally be cleared daily in order to avoid accumulation and overflow in food handling and food storage areas.

It is extremely important to carry out disposal of sewage and effluents — solid, liquid and gas — in conformity with specified requirements of factory act/ state pollution control board.

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