From Hamburger Buns to the Recent Launch of Cheesecake

Kill Step timeline.jpg

Though any experienced baker knows that the baking process is a "kill step," the industry wasn't able to validate it until AIB International began releasing its kill step calculators in 2015.

"The research behind each of the kill step calculators has easily saved the baking industry hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Brian Strouts, Vice President, Baking and Food Technical Services. "And since AIB International had previously conducted a series of scientific validation studies this project just made sense."

The momentum for this project started with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). New requirements call for each FDA-registered food manufacturing facility in the United States to scientifically demonstrate and document the kill step in baked goods production. AIB International has released calculators that validate the kill step for Salmonella in hamburger buns, basic muffins, nut muffins, multigrain bread, crispy cookies, soft cookies, doughnuts, flour tortillas, and cheesecakes.

"To date the calculators have been downloaded from AIB's website more than 3,612 times, and we aren't done yet," said AIB's Director of Microbiology, Kantha Channaiah. "We can do a lot more. There are plenty of products that need this type of technology."

Calculators for bars and fruit-filled pastries are currently in the pipeline and should be ready in 2018.

"Supporting the baking industry through publically funded research is central to AIB International's mission," said Strouts. "This is a great example of how we can use funding provided by the industry to develop a needed technical solution."

The Baking Process Kill Step Calculator is a scientific tool bakers around the world can use to evaluate whether their baking process destroys Salmonella spp.

Each calculator utilizes the product's internal temperature and baking time to determine the total process lethality in log values. Bakers just enter a minimum of 20 data points and the tool automatically calculates the total log reductions for Salmonella and generates three graphs:

  1. Product internal temperature
  2. F value/minimum
  3. Cumulative log reduction

The report generated can then be used as supporting documentation for FSMA's validation and verification process. 

Recently officials with the FDA said that the kill step project was the only industry-wide approach that the agency has seen. They applauded the industry partnership for taking the initiative. The FDA also encouraged AIB to continue expanding the project.

"We've received recognition and positive feedback from bakers in all corners of the world," Channaiah said. "The credit goes to the industry team, AIB's management, the American Bakers Association, Kansas State University, and University of Georgia-Athens. I am very proud to be a part of this team's successes."

These kill step calculators and detailed procedures can be downloaded from AIB International's website.