Just baking in the oven is not enough to ensure food safety of baked foods

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Baking is one of the oldest methods of cooking but baking foods in the oven might not provide the maximum food safety. Just relying only on the heat produced by the oven, when baking, is not enough to ensure food safety of baked foods as baking does not kill all microorganisms. FSSAI has clearly stated that foods will be safe when good manufacturing practices are followed along the entire value chain which includes production, storage, transportation, manufacture and distribution.

Globally baked products can be categorised into groups which include

  • Bread or bread derived products including bagels, pita bread or fruit bread
  • Desserts such as fruit pies, crumbles, éclairs, sticky puddings, frozen brownies and slices
  • Breakfast cereals, biscuits or crackers
  • Cakes, pastry, pies, pizza or pasta

Presently FSSAI has standards for two products under the bakery category and these are biscuits and breads which have ingredients that are used and available in India. However international Food Acts consider some of these baked products to be high risk foods and so their handling and storing has to be such that they do not become contaminated.  Since these foods are derived from flours food safety begins at the production level. Safe agricultural practices will ensure that the foods are safe from pesticide and fertilizer residue, biological and physical contaminants as per FSSAI regulations.

Bakeries that manufacture multiple baked goods need to understand that food safety also means hygienic handling and storing of raw materials, sanitary conditions of the production area as well as the personal hygienic maintenance of the personnel in the bakery. According to FSSAI news sanitation process and allergen and mould control measures, as well as proper storage in retail outlets is the best way to ensure food safety of baked goods.

The FSSAI regulations have laid down the guidelines for incorporating best practices in sanitation and cleaning, training staff on hygienic practices. Carrying out self-inspections is one of the best ways to ensure that bakery products remain free of contaminants.There are three main types of hazards that could contaminate baked products

  • Microbiological toxins and bacteria like Salmonella spp, Staphylococcus aureus. yeasts and moulds
  • Physical paper, string, wood, plastic, metal, stone, hair, glass, mouse droppings, etc.
  • Chemical contaminants from fertilizers, pesticides, disinfectants and machine lubricants, etc.

Bakery products that have high moisture content like cakes and pastries pose the most food safety concerns as they are prone to growth of wide range of bacteria, yeasts and moulds.  Some of the ingredients used in baked products are perishable like cream and other raw fruit and meat which could deteriorate quickly if not handled or stored in recommended temperatures and this also applies to many to finished goods like flour based desserts. FSSAI regulations have clear cut standards for shelf life and storage of bakery products as they could have short shelf lives. The use of cold chains is very important especially for fast spoiling ingredients and products to ensure food safety.