CFA: Best practice in the preparation of beetroot and onion for minimally processed, RTE applications

In response to CFA members’ request this downloadable free best practice guidance on beetroot and onion has been developed for chilled food producers who are using raw salad and vegetable ingredients where the edible portion is grown in the ground and the final foods are (ready to eat) RTE.

The two vegetables are among certain raw materials that can prove difficult to source and process satisfactorily for a ‘minimally processed RTE’ application.

Both are deemed as a ‘high risk ingredient’ for a number of reasons: they are grown in soil and subject to more soil contamination; the small quantities used do not attract the same level of technical and procurement focus as other ingredients; the majority of the beetroot or onion used is likely to be cooked and upstream supply chains may not be meeting the usual food safety standards that manufacturers of RTE products are used to. And outsourced processing operations many not always use the correct approach to food safety in minimally processed RTE foods.

This guidance sets out a strategy to help minimise potential Listeria contamination. It includes a checklist of points to address when visiting a supplier, a comprehensive list of the risks to be aware of and the procedures that should be followed to minimize or eliminate this risk.

FBO procurement teams need to recognise the challenges and adapt their processes to reduce risk.  Suppliers of these ingredients for minimally processed foods must be approved and appropriately risk assessed as suitable.

Effective HACCP involving comprehensive assessment of risk is also critical. Where ingredient-specific risks are identified, these must be addressed using appropriate processes and controls.

As well as providing specific best practice guidance on risk management for beetroot and onion, the principles can be applied to other minimally processed RTE ingredients where the edible portion is grown in the ground, such as carrots and spring onions.

Chilled Food Association guidance (notably ‘Microbiological Guidance for Produce Suppliers to Chilled Food Manufacturers’ and ‘Best Practice Guidelines for Manufacturers of Chilled Food’) remains entirely relevant.

November 2022

Photo: rasa-kasparaviciene-kmaHZV6MNQI-unsplash