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Food Safety through Microbiological Analysis and Controls

May 24, 2023 | 0 comments

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May 24, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


In today’s hassle and bustle world, it is not uncommon to forgo bagging food and instead to grab a meal on the go. It is not a surprise to spot food retailers from extra-large supermarkets to small convenience stores carry pre-packaged sandwich for the hungry and the hurried customer. Ham and cheese, cheese and tomato, chicken or turkey salad, just a few of many varieties of sandwiches you can buy have ready-made. Sandwiches are amongst the popular fast marketing plan. This conception is focused entirely on stable a start-up company like Nom Foods in the country and most people consider them as light meals to be taken at lunch hours. Since many people prefer eating them, their choices can be the pre-packaged sandwiches that are available commercially (Panos 2012). In most restaurants, Panos (2012) noted that there are different styles of sandwiches available on the menus. Large chain stores of sandwiches may supply other different kinds of refreshments like fruits, salad, roll, bagel to the customers. Moreover, sandwiches are also available in most supermarkets. Typical sandwiches comprise one or two bread pieces with different flings in the middle such as vegetables, cheese, egg, fish, meat, or sauces, depending on the orders of the customers (Panos 2012). Furthermore, sandwiches may be served hot or cold. Retail costumers specify the type of ingredients they wish to be used or included in their sandwich order and then the company sets up the assembly line accordingly.


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This report is intended to explain the microbiological issues around changes in ready to eat food product formulation, processing, packaging, and to explore the measures that a food company must consider to ensure the microbiological safety of the new product.

The assignment addresses microbiological issues around food product formulation, processing, and packaging changes. When a change is made, it often prevents or delays the growth of some microorganisms but creates opportunities for the growth of other organisms. The paper will be aligned to a scenario of meeting consumer needs. In the case of the café, the consumers often need to eat, fresh and tastefully prepared food company that has been making a high-risk product, Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich for many years and has an excellent safety record. However, sales have been dropping and the company is now considering making a new range of related products. The new products are a Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich, prepared by chili but not mayonnaise, and another product, a Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich without salad leaves and also prepared by chilly instead of mayonnaise. These two new products use similar components but are processed in different ways. The three Pre-packaged products of sandwich each consist of two slices of bread with filling in the middle. Different fillings, including roast chicken, lettuce & cucumber, mayonnaise, chili sauce, and brown bread.

Product 1: Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich

Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwiches production includes the purchase of raw materials, preparation of the filling, assembly of the fillings and the bread, packaging, delivery to the retailers, and serving the customers. Figure 1 indicates the flow chart of the Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich production.

The raw materials of Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwiches include poultry products, sauce, vegetables, and bread. Panos (2012) stated that some of the raw materials such as vegetables and poultry must be processed first. However, other raw materials such as sauces are usually available ready for use. According to Raphael (2014), to control the food products quality, large chain stores of sandwich products were unable to develop. The investment was directed at building a new brand name. The more than two-billion-dollar investment is allowed Tata to purchase from suppliers the ready to use fillings, normally packed in packaged of below 3 kilograms per bag.

The raw ingredients processing for fillings undergoes different steps of washing, marinating, cutting, mixing, and cooking with the salad dressing depending on the fillings styles. The salad dressings according to Panos (2012) may be added to improve taste, bind ingredients in the fillings, and improve product texture. In some instances, they may be added to create a preservation effect to a certain extent to food.

Raphael (2014) stated that when all the ingredients to be used are ready, sandwiching will follow where the bread will be assembled with fillings including the introduction of roast chicken salad. The sandwiches are manually placed in individual plastic packages before the conveyor belt transports them to the sealing heat machine. Moreover, different filling styles may be put depending on the choice of the customer, afterwards, they will be cut into triangular shapes. Lastly, the ready sandwiches or the finished products are packaged for the consumers.

Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwiches are one of the universal offerings in most of the deli counters and look delicious and attractive. The Pre-packaged sandwiches are provided from some media may be restricted from advertising some products. For example, the advertisement of large food plants to stores and/or supermarkets therefore including transport step in production.

Most sandwiches including Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwiches in local markets are commonly made fresh in restaurants and sandwich chain stores. Moreover, the Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwiches are also supplied to retail outlets and restaurants from food factories hence involve a step of delivery in the production process.

Raw ingredients

  • Roast chicken
  • Tomato,
  • Lettuce, and cucumber
  • Mayonnaise,
  • Brown sliced bread
  • Salad leaves
  • Black pepper and salt

Processing method

In preparing the chicken salad sandwiches, chicken is prepared separately and served as sandwiches among the bread/rolls with lettuce on top.

  1. The oven is heated to 4000F and the rack is arranged in the middle. The chicken is then rubbed with oil on both sides and generously seasoned with black pepper and salt on both sides.
  2. The chicken is then placed on a baking sheet and cooked until the instant-read thermometer reads 1600F, for about 45-50 minutes. It is then removed to the cutting board from the baking sheet and let to rest until it has cooled down to the point that it can be handled for approximately 30 minutes
  3. When it has cooled and it is ready, the chicken meat is removed from the bone, discarding fat, cartilage, and the skin.
  4. Meat is torn into bite-sized pieces and then mayonnaise is added and then seamed with black pepper and salt. Next, it is stirred to combine evenly then covered and refrigerated until it is chilled thoroughly waiting to be severed as sand wishes with bread. The processing method for bread is below:
  5. Load fresh bread into an automated machine. Moreover, this is done by visually inspecting the slices and removing any flaws and withholds
  6. The machine then drops the slices facing up onto the moving belt on the production line, where first a depositor that is automated squirts on the type and quantity of mayonnaise requested by the customer.
  7. Workers lay on the specific ingredients manually such as grated lettuce and cucumber
  8. In the prep area, the workers load on to slicer the sandwiches. The customer has specified the weight and the size of the slices it wants in the sandwich, and therefore the factory programs accordingly the slicer.
  9. The slices then go to the assembly line where they are added to the sandwiches by the workers.
  10. Next, the workers close up the sandwiches and stack them in piles of two
  11. The moving belt then moves the sandwiches to the mechanized cutter which works like a reciprocating saw. The vertical blade in the mechanized cutter oscillates at a high speed cutting the sandwiches into halves as it travels through. Each side of the stacked halves will be packaged together as one.
  12. Next, the robot suctions the slices of the bread and places them on the moving belt. The positioning plates adjust decently the slices so that they are cantered perfectly under the nozzles that dispense the ingredients of the sandwiches.
  13. The nozzle deposits a quantity set of mayonnaise on every second slice. The robotic arms in the next station aligned with the suction cups grab the slices that are empty and then flip them over on to the slices that are filled
  14. At the next stop, the ultrasonic knife slices the sandwiches into two using the produced vibrations by sound waves of high frequency. This method of cutting gives a deanery edge.
  15. The robotic arms next pick up half of each of the sandwiches, then spin it and stack it on the other half. The robot grabs four sandwiches finished at a time putting them in plastic trays that are triangular, which then moves on to the labeling and sealing stations.
  16. Back to the semi-automated assembly line, workers place the refrigerator chicken pieces between the sandwiches manually, then stack the sandwiches, and then place them in plastic-lined packages made of cardboard individually.
  17. The conveyor belts then bring them to a machine that presses down the flap and seals and shut with heat.
  18. Within 12 hours of production, the sandwiches hit store shelves. They then stay fresh for more than three days after which the manufacturer or the sandwich company removes the sandwiches that are unsold while making their daily delivery of the new sandwiches (Panos 2012).

Figure 1: Adapted from Centre for Food Safety

From the flow chart above indicating the production process, the processing begins with purchase and receipt, then storage, cooking, and finally packaging/storage/transportation

Purchase and receipt-the manufacturer purchases the ingredients and ensures that they are not damaged or contaminated or have not passed the “best before,” “expiry” date

Storage– the ingredients are stored at temperatures immediately. Moreover, manufacturers should practice the method of first-in-first-to stock rotation. Lastly, ready-to-eat and raw ingredients should be stored separately and kept at 40C or below (the United States 2011).

Cooking/preparation/cooling– The ingredients required for the preparation of the Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich have to be thoroughly cooked until the core temperatures are reached. That is 750C and above for about 15 seconds

Next, the capital for individuals to venture into the grocery vending business using carts as advised by Michimi & Wimberl (2010). They would aid bring healthy food is cooled immediately from 600C to 200C in 2 hours, and in the next four hours to 40C. To avoid cross-contamination, separate utensils should be used in the handling of raw around the world have been rising because of several reasons. This indicates that many children are consuming high fat and sugar content foods and the ready to eat foods. Lastly, the dressings and the fillings should be kept at 40C or below and be covered, and consume as soon as possible (the United States 2011).

Potential microbiological hazards

Some ingredients that are of high risk such as vegetables are commonly used in sandwiches. Adams & Moss (2008) asserted that raw vegetables are known well to be used in a sandwich together with dressings of salad. Vegetables would be contaminated with Clostridium Perfringens and Listeria monocytogenes if not properly cleaned (Barbut 2002).

Preparation of the sandwich in most instances involves handling of ready to eat or pre-cooked ingredients, therefore environmental and good personal hygienic practices should be observed to reduce chances of microbiological hazards cross contaminations. According to Curtis & Lawley (2003), the commonly transmitted pathogens through bare hand handling include S. aureus and Salmonella spp.

Final composition

Intrinsic factors

Intrinsic factors are the factors that are the food characteristic. The need for temperature or time control is determined primarily by the contamination potential with the pathogenic microorganisms of great concern, and the potential for toxin production and subsequent growth. The intrinsic factors of pre-packaged roasted chicken salad sandwich according to FDA (n.d) is tabulated in Table 1 below:

ingredients PH Aw The oxidation-reduction potential of the food O/R or Rh Nutrient Antimicrobial


Biological structure
chicken 6.2-6.4 0.99-1.00 Protein, lipids, minerals, and vitamins Lysozyme, Nitrate nitrate. Sorbic acid, smoke Chicken meat
bread 5.0-6.2 ~0.96 Carbohydrates, vitamins Acetic acids, propionic acid, sorbic acid, and paraben
Salad leaves 5.5-6.5 0.97-1.00 Carbohydrates, minerals, proteins, and vitamins Acetic acid, sorbic acid, benzoic acid, sulfur dioxide, BHA, and BHT leaves
mayonnaise 4.2 3.7-4.0 Lipids and carbohydrates ginger lecithin
Chili sauce 2.8-3.7 2.7-3.2 Carbohydrates, minerals, proteins, and vitamins Sulfur dioxide, acetic acid, sorbic acid, benzoic acid, BHA, and BHT fruits
tomato 4.2-4.3 0.97-1.00 Carbohydrates, minerals, proteins, and vitamins Acetic acid, sorbic acid, benzoic acid, sulfur dioxide, BHA, and BHT fruits
cucumber 3.8 0.97-1.00 Carbohydrates, minerals, proteins, and vitamins Acetic acid, sorbic acid, benzoic acid, sulfur dioxide, BHA, and BHT skin

Table 1: The intrinsic factors of a pre-packaged roasted chicken salad sandwich

Extrinsic factors

These are factors that refer to the surrounding environment of the food. They are the storage environment properties that may affect the microbes, the food, or even both. The extrinsic factors in pre-packaged roasted chicken salad sandwiches include the storage temperature, the environment relative humidity, and the gas concentration in the environment.

The temperature of storage– According to Jay (2000), all microbes have a growth range of temperature. The optimum growth range of the psychrophiles is 15-30, mesophiles 30-40, and thermophiles 45-65. Therefore, holding temperatures dictate the type of spoilage.

Relative humidity– this refers to the content of water in the foodstuffs immediate environment. This also depends on the foodstuffs, where there can be a surface interchange depending on relative levels of RH and Aw. Therefore, consideration should be given to the material for a package of the roast chicken salad sandwich, whether they decrease or increase RH. Moreover, consideration must also be given to the quality of the foodstuffs and the potential surface growth.

Gaseous concentration-specific requirements of gases influence the flora supported by that environment. In the packaging of the sandwiches, the use of a modified or controlled atmosphere is now used extensively. A variety of gases have been used with vacuum packaging of the sandwiches and they include 03 /N2/ C02. This results in a shift in for or retardation of their growth (Mortimore & Wallace 1998).

Micro-organisms related to Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich

Given that bare hands are used by most workers in the production steps of sandwiches, many microbiological hazards are eminent. According to FAO & WHO (2008), Listeria Monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella species can be introduced through cross-contamination between raw items, ready- to-eat [8] Moreover, the place is also a market mid-point for the people from the land of the black people on their route to Barbary. Alvise da Cadmasto further describes the natives’ food by saying that the foods, and by food handlers. Therefore, sandwich producers must take precautionary measures in their subsequent steps of production to prevent potential risks of microbiological hazards.

However, as for the salmonella contamination. The pathogens may be introduced through cross-contamination during the processing like vegetable salad preparation. For the chicken meat not properly cooked, species of salmonella may be found, or be multiplied in the end products if the conditions for storage such as pH value, nutrient contents, time, and water activity are favorable for their growth (Harrigan & Park 1991).

HMSO. (1990) pointed out that vegetables are frequently eaten raw in Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich sandwiches, and they include tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce which are the common ones. It is therefore significant that the vegetables be thoroughly washed to minimize microbiological hazards. HMSO. (1995) suggested that disinfectant may be applied to eliminate or decrease the log of bacteria. However, when chemicals are uses, it is paramount for the handlers to follow the suppliers’ instructions on the disinfectant labels. This is to avoid any chemical hazard from being introduced in the final products

HMSO (1990) also pointed out that in the human nasopharynx, Staphylococcus aureus is naturally present. This reflects poor food handling and personal hygiene. Therefore good personal hygiene and health education are important in the prevention of food contamination by such bacterial agents.

Mayonnaise spoilage results from different causes such as hydrolysis, oxidation, and emulsion of the oils by biological or chemical action, and growth of the microorganisms that process off-flavors or gas. Kurtzman Rogers & Hesseltine (1971) indicated that the microbiological spoilage of mayonnaise is generally caused by bacteria and yeast similar to Zygosaccharomyces globiformis. Other microbes that spoil mayonnaise according to Kurtzman Rogers & Hesseltine (1971) include Bacillus subtilis

According to Hong Kong (2000), just like any other perishable poultry, bacteria can be found on undercooked or raw chicken. They rapidly multiply at temperatures ranging between 4.40c and 600c (400F and 1400F) (Jay 2000). Before thorough cooking and out of refrigeration. ICMSF (1997) asserted that freezing does not kill bacteria but cooking destroys them. Some of the bacteria associated with the raw chicken include:

  • Salmonella Enteriditis often associated with poultry animals. ICMSF (1997) pointed out that FSIS requires all establishments of poultry to meet standards of salmonella performance as a way of verification of the production systems that they are effective in controlling contamination caused by the pathogens
  • Staphylococcus aureus can be carried in nasal passages, human hands, or in the throats. According to Jay (2000), the bacteria is found in f food prepared by hand and then refrigerated improperly such as the chicken salad.
  • Campylobacter jejuni is amongst the most common diarrheal illnesses causes in humans. By using proper methods of cooking and preventing cross-contamination by Campylobacter jejuni reduces infection.
  • Listeria monocytogenes also cause human foodborne illnesses. However, it can be destroyed by proper cooking but cooked products can also be contaminated by poor sanitary practices and improper handling in storage areas and also during food preparation. Mortimore & Wallace (1998) indicated that Listeria monocytogenes risk can increase when it has a growing opportunity for food in storage. Therefore, manufacturers and consumers should observe “use-by” labels and dates, and to keep them refrigerated
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria live in the humans and animal intestines (Pawsey 2002). Some kinds of bacteria are harmful and they contaminate animals including chickens during the slaughter process. Even though Escherichia coli (E. coli) presence is an indicator of fecal matter for organisms, it does not mean, in fact, that the product is contaminated by feces. Environmental contaminants such as dust, the present Escherichia coli (E. coli) in feathers, can also contaminate the carcasses of the poultry.

Conclusions and recommendations

It is ethical and also a governmental regulatory that all companies and individuals handling in sandwiches business must practice goof manufacturing principles. However, Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwiches are perishable with a shelf life of about 1 to 2 days. Therefore, the manufacturers should take precautionary measures especially in the filling preparation to improve the quality and good hygiene of the Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich products, moreover, the consumers should be hygienic to avoid microbiological hazards. The recommendations of the paper are categories into two; sandwiches manufacturers and the consumers

Manufacturers of sandwiches

In handling the raw materials, the sandwich manufacturers should:

  1. Choose fresh ingredients of food
  2. Obtainable the sandwich raw materials from reliable and reputable suppliers
  3. Refrigerate the salad dressings that are opened
  4. Thoroughly wash all the vegetables
  5. Cook chicken meat thoroughly
  6. Observe food hygiene and good personal hygiene
  7. Observe optimal duration and storage temperature
  8. Prevent cross-contamination (RIPHH 1995).

Sandwiches consumers

The consumers need to understand some clues on how they can choose good quality sandwiches;

  1. Buy the sandwiches from reliable and reputable suppliers
  2. Pay attention to the temperature f storage of the pre-packaged sandwiches, and always check for the expiry dates
  3. Consume a Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich as soon as possible
  4. If not consumed immediately, the Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich should be separated from the raw food, packed and stored at a temperature of 0-40c, and be consumed within 1 to 2 days (the United States 1997).

Product 2: Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich


  • Roast chicken
  • Tomato
  • Lettuce, and cucumber
  • Salad leaves
  • Chili sauce
  • Brown bread
  • Black pepper and salt

Processing method

The processing method of product 2 is similar to product 1 with the only exception being the replacement of mayonnaise in product one with chili sauce. To produce a safe product and extend the shelf life, the manufacturer has replaced mayonnaise with chili sauce, the latter has a very low PH & Aw, and hence the environment is not supportive for microbial growth. The pH of mayonnaise and Aw is 4.2 and 3.7-4.0 respectively (FDA n.d). Similarly, the pH and Aw of chili sauce are 2.8-3.7 and 2.7-3.2 respectively (FDA n.d). By replacing mayonnaise with chili sauce in product 2, it will hamper the growth of Zygosaccharomyces globiformis and Bacillus subtilis which thrive in higher pH and Aw found in mayonnaise and low in chili sauce hence hampering their growth and lengthens the shelf life of product 2

Product 3: Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich


  • Roast chicken
  • Tomato
  • Chili
  • Brown bread

Processing method

The processing method of product 3 is similar to product 2 but without the salad leaves. The processing, storage, and distribution are similar to product 2 above. The company decided to take off salad leaves, to minimize the risk and extend the shelf life of the product, because salad leaves have a PH of 5.5-6.5 and an Aw 0.97-1.00, and most microorganisms grow well at 0.91 to 0.99. Clostridium botulinum will grow and produce deadly botulism toxin if the pH is above 4.6 and the water activity is above 0.85 (see tableau 1 above)

Why the Company’s good record for safety and quality may be compromised in the production and distribution process

In a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, the hazard is defined as physical, chemical, or biological property that may foods to be unfit or unsafe for consumption by human beings. In the production and distribution process, a company is a good record for safety, and quality may be compromised by many factors, either biologically, chemically, or physically (RIPHH 1995).

In the production and distribution process of sandwiches, biological hazards, especially bacteria can cause both intoxications and foodborne infections. A foodborne infection is caused when human beings ingest pathogenic microorganisms that are sufficient to cause an infection after their multiplication n the body. On the other hand, a foodborne intoxication results from ingestion of produced preformed toxins by some bacteria when they multiply and release harmful toxins into the food products. In Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich, there are different pathogenic bacteria implicated in the foodborne illnesses associated with poultry and they include; Bacillus cereus, Campylobacter jejuni, Clostridium perfringens, Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium botulinum, and Yersinia enterocolitica (RIPHH 1995).

According to Adams & Moss (2008), in the production and distribution process, chemical hazards also causes foodborne illnesses just like biological hazards, although it affects few people. The chemical hazards originate from four sources in general during the production and distribution of Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich.

  1. Chemicals unintentionally added– these can be agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers, animal drugs, herbicides, and pesticides added on the raw materials of sandwiches such as in poultry products and vegetables. Moreover, there are also plant chemicals during the production process such as pesticides, paints, lubricants, oils, sanitizers, and cleaners. Lastly, the environmental contaminants unintentionally added chemicals may also compromise a company’s good production and distribution process and they include PCBs, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and lead (Barbut 2002).
  2. Chemical hazards naturally occurring– these include the products of animal, plant, or microbial metabolism such as aflatoxins during the production process of the sandwich raw materials
  3. Chemicals intentionally added– these include the processing aids, sulfating agents, food additives, acids, preservatives, and flavor enhancers
  4. Sanitation– these are used to clean the companies where the processing of the sandwiches occurs and they include sanitizers, cleaners, and pesticides.
  5. Storage and shipping– this incorporates all types of chemicals and cross-contamination (Curtis & Lawley 2003).

FAO & WHO (2008) pointed out that in the in production and distribution process, physical hazards cause injury or illnesses to the person consuming the food products the physical products include different foreign objects or particles or extraneous materials. Physical hazards in Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich can arise from multiple sources such as poorly maintained or designed equipment and facilities, contaminated raw materials, improper training and practices of the employees, and faulty procedures during the processing. Forsythe (2000) identified some of the physical hazards and their sources and causes during the production and distribution process which can compromise the safety measures put in place by a company as shown in table 2.

Physical hazards Sources or causes
Glass Thermometers, gage covers, utensils, light fixtures, jars, bottles
Metal Wires, steel wool, screws, bolts, nuts
stones Raw materials
plastics Raw materials. Packaging materials
bone Improper plant processing, raw materials
Needs Hypodermic needles are used during injections of the poultry.

Table 2: The physical hazards and their sources and causes during the production and distribution process which can compromise the safety measures put in place by a company.

Measures that the Company could adopt to control microbial hazards and maintain its good track record.

When the microbial hazards are identified with their occurrence points, a company needs to need to identify preventive measures of the hazards from compromising the finished Pre-packaged roast chicken salad sandwich safety. The controls or the preventive measures can be defined as microbial factors that can be used to limit or remove a hazard identified. Some of the preventive measures that a company could adopt to control microbial hazards and maintain its good track record according to Harrigan & Park (1991) are tabulated below in table 3.

pathogens Control or preventive measure
Bacillus cereus Proper cooling and holding temperatures of foods; thermal processing of the canned food that are shelf-stable
Campylobacter jejuni Avoid cross-contamination of the equipment; proper pasteurization, atmospheric packaging; freezing
Clostridium botulinum Addition of salt and nitrate to the cured processed meats; thermal processing of the canned food that are shelf-stable; acidification below pH 4.6; refrigeration of the vacuum packaged meats that are perishable, moisture reduction below water activity of 0.93
Clostridium perfringens Proper cooking temperatures and times; Proper cooling and holding temperatures of foods
Escherichia coli O157:H7 Proper cooking temperatures and times; Proper cooling and holding temperatures of foods
Listeria monocytogenes Rigid program of environmental sanitation; proper heat treatments, separation of the ready-to-eat and raw areas and or a product
Salmonella spp. Separation of cooked and raw product, proper heat treatments; fermentation controls; withdrawing feed from the animals before slaughter; decreased water activity.

; antimicrobial rinses; avoiding hide exterior from getting in contact with the carcass during skinning; disinfecting knives; proper scalding procedures

Staphylococcus aureus pH control and proper fermentation; reduced water activity; proper post-process product handling and heat treatment
Yersinia enterocolitica Heat treatments; proper fragmentation, control of acidity and salt; prevention of cross-contamination.

Table 3: preventive measures that a company could adopt to control microbial hazards and maintain its good track record


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