SNEAK PEEK: The importance of smokehouse maintenance
Sept. 5, 2017
by Joel Crews
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Experts at Daily's Premium Meats discuss keeping smokehouses clean to produce a consistent, quality product.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A little over one year since opening a new bacon-processing plant in St. Joseph, Missouri, business at the Daily’s Premium Meats plant is, indeed, smoking. With two other bacon plants as part of its operations, the new 114,000-sq.-ft. facility alone smokes up to 8 million lbs. of product each year. Optimizing the daily operation of smokehouses at a company like Daily’s is critical to the consistent look and taste of its signature products for its branded and co-packaging partner-customers.
Mining the expertise of the operations and maintenance team at Daily’s, it quickly becomes evident that achieving the optimum taste, texture and appearance of smoked meats doesn’t happen by accident. The following tips address the benefits of properly maintaining smokehouses:
What are some obvious indicators that a smokehouse needs maintenance attention?
Daily’s Premium Meats:
The biggest indicators appear on the smokehouse charts. It is important to monitor for unexpected changes in dry bulb and wet bulb temperatures and humidity. Other indicators may be probe variances, unusual noises or vibration, or inconsistent product output results.
Daily’s uses some very sophisticated smokehouses at its facilities. Can you address the evolution of smoking equipment and technology and how it has become easier to make maintenance a daily part of operations vs. a reaction to a problem?
Most of it comes down to the controls and monitoring you have in place. You can learn a lot about your smokehouse performance just by looking at the charts. Troubleshooting is much easier as the controls become more sophisticated. Whether older or newer technology, repeatable results are achieved from operations and maintenance departments collaborating in the processes, techniques, and expected outcomes that produce high-quality food products. Parameters affecting those outcomes are: combustion temperature, combustion quality, rate of chip feed, and product condition when applying smoke.
Are there dangers related to improperly maintained smokehouses and if so, what are they?
The most catastrophic danger would be a smokehouse explosion. There are safety mechanisms in place to prevent this from happening, but it is always in the back of your mind. Because these houses use so much air and cause differential pressures between inside and outside of the houses, implosions are a concern as well.
Read the rest of this story and other meat and poultry features in the September issue of MEAT+POULTRY.