Friday, August 31, 2012

Inside Dairy Plants- Food Technology and Safety Assignment in Nicaragua

Visiting Cheese Cooperative in Nicaragua
This past July, Dr. John Rushing volunteered with the Farmer to Farmer program in Nicaragua to work with dairy cooperatives. He provided techincal advice on equipment acquisitions, made recommendations on plant layouts and evaluated operations to meet international food safety standards and improve food technologies.  This was his second trip to Nicaragua as a Farmer to Farmer Volunteer and he was able to visit some of the same hosts organizations providing technical follow up and feedback.  

One of the first projects during his time in Nicaragua, focused on reviewing the ventilation system for one of the major cheese cooperatives in the program.  Dairy plants are by nature of the work,  hot and humid.  Employees are expected to wear considerable amounts of sanitary gear, which makes the work hotter. However, it is not simple to ventilate the facility because the effects of aerosols produced by water sprays can be a source of post processing contamination and ventilation engineers must be made aware of it.  Dr. Rushing reviewed better ways to manage both the high temperatures, food safety and existing facility design to help make it a high performing but comfortable environment for the workers.  
FTF Volunteer at Dairy Plant Facility
With a different host organization, Dr. Rushing was asked to evaluate the installation of an aseptic processing and packaging operation.  The enterprise is focused on the equipment and permits phase of their operations plan. The obejective of the project is to provide milk that can transported and stored without refigeration given that it this would help the shelf life of the product and its acessibility to the rural areas of the country where transportation is a challenge. 

After he had a chance to evaluate their equipment acquisition and construction plans, he encouraged them to take a more holistic review of their market, customers, distribution, personnel training, and management of the operation. 
A third project was an operational review of a processing facility with recommendations on how to comply with certain international standards on equipment construction, pressures and testing.  The final company visited also requested an operational review and recommendations were made on implementation of CIP cleaning procedures and personnel safety and protection.

 Dr. Rushing teachs at North Carolina State University and is also a consultant food technologist.  He has advised and directed food technology and food safety programs for over 30 years, working with both regulatory agencies and private companies in North Carolina and through out the world.

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