IKE Scenario 05-06: Condensation Over a Kettle Cook Process
Objective: To provide inspection program personnel with a thought process for determining noncompliance when condensation occurs in an official establishment.
You are an FSIS program employee assigned to an official establishment that manufactures soups using a kettle cook process. You are aware that there has been a problem with condensation dripping from overhead structures above kettles. You have documented noncompliance on several occasions and have discussed this problem with establishment management on numerous occasions during weekly meetings. In response to past noncompliance, the establishment has upgraded and redesigned the ventilation system in the kettle cook area. Circulating fans and larger capacity exhaust hoods made from moisture impervious materials that can be readily cleaned have been installed. Exhaust hoods were redesigned to minimize condensate formation and vent stacks modified to prevent backflow of condensate within the vent stack. The establishment's written Sanitation SOPs maintains the moisture impervious surfaces above the kettles as ready-to-eat product contact surfaces such that any condensate present is free of microbiological and foreign material contamination. In addition, any device used to wipe condensate from the moisture impervious surface is also maintained as a ready-to-eat product contact surface. The establishment also conducts microbial testing of the moisture impervious surfaces before and during operations to verify the effectiveness of the Sanitation SOP procedures and makes the test results available to FSIS. The Sanitation SOP includes a monitoring procedure to ensure that employees operating the kettles open the lids only when necessary.
You are performing a scheduled 06D01 procedure in the soup kettle kitchen and observe that employees are emptying and refilling several open kettles and that water vapor fills the air around the kettles. You monitor the situation and observe condensation form on the impervious surface directly above the open kettles and water droplets fall into an open kettle containing product. You observe that employees close the kettle lids when the operation is complete and that the ventilation system evacuates the excess water vapor and evaporates any residual condensate. You also observe employees immediately follow the procedures within the SSOP to remove condensation from the overhead surface. You review the Sanitation SOP monitoring and microbial testing records and find that the surfaces above the kettles are being maintained as ready-to-eat product contact surfaces such that any condensate present is free of microbiological and foreign material contamination.
You know that the water vapor release is uncontrollable when kettles are emptied and refilled and that the establishment has taken a number of measures to minimize and control condensation as required in 9 CFR 416.2(d) . You determine the updated ventilation system adequately controls vapors when the kettle lids are closed and that the Sanitation SOP prevents the creation of an insanitary condition. Based on your review of the microbial testing results, the updated ventilation system, and your observations of the Sanitation SOP being implemented as described, you determine that a regulatory noncompliance does not exist.
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