Dairy Establishment Inspection Manual – Chapter 19 Appendices
Appendix 11 Policy for the Use of Wood in Dairy Establishments
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To outline the national policy regarding the use of wood for cheese curing.
This policy is only applicable when wood is used for shelving in cheese curing rooms for bacterial surface ripened surface ripened cheesesFootnote 4.
Other than wood used for 640s with appropriate liners and pallets, which both must be well controlled, wood must not be used in dairy establishments for food contact surfaces, supplementary utensils or physical structures where product is exposed or placed at risk of contamination.
For reasons of tradition and suitability, wood has been used to aid the surface ripening of cheeses. The bacteria (usually Brevibacterium linens) on the shelf surface break down part of the cheese protein and form the rind. The cheeses are washed and turned regularly during ripening. The cheese shelves are seeded with the bacteria which become ingrained in the wood. Under controlled conditions, the harmless bacteria significantly outnumber the undesirable microorganisms and therefore the risk of contamination is minimized.
No other areas of the dairy establishment require an active bacteria culture on their surface. Since wood is an absorbent surface that is difficult to clean to keep it free of contaminating bacteria, it is not permitted elsewhere in dairy establishments.
- Wood used for cheese shelves to cure bacterial surface ripened cheeses must be smooth and either unsealed or sealed with an approved sealant. Supports for the shelves should be stainless steel or a non-corrosive, nonabsorbent material.
- The establishment must have a written, effective program to clean and maintain their shelves. The program needs to specify: the frequency and methods of washing; checking and replacing for physical condition (splinters, cracks, mite infestation); and if required, environmental sample monitoring of the product contact surfaces and the room environment. Applicable records must be kept.
- If experience or scientific evidence indicates that the use of wood shelves used to cure bacterial surface ripened cheeses poses a biological risk to the cheese, this policy will be reevaluated.
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