A scoop of cold coffee with a dash of chocolate sauce and sliced almonds frozen comfortably is a perfect dessert, but it was an ice-cream feast at Baskin Robbins’ processing unit in Bhosari near Pune, when I reached there at lunch time, after a two-hour long drive. “Catching cold eating ice creams on a cool rainy day” is passé. A lavish second helping in hand, it was a perfect setting as Jayant Dange, Senior Manager, QA, Rich Graviss Products Pvt. Ltd, explained with passion all about his ice creams and toppings that conform to international standards.
This is the same place where Kwality Ice Creams manufactured its products before the brand was handed over to Hindustan Lever Ltd. In 1993, Baskin Robbins, USA, approved of this factory and began producing its products. In addition, this factory since 1996, also manufactures non-dairy toppings under Rich brand in collaboration with Rich Product Corporation, USA. Manufactured out of vegetable oils, these non-dairy toppings are more stable and smoother and do not turn sour like dairy cream. “We are leading the market in this product today,” claims Dange. Well, cold coffee flavour is one among over 1000 recipe formulations of Baskin Robbins, as it keeps adding a flavour of the month to its bank that is distributed through its franchisee outlets located across India. “We also export to Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives.”
This factory manufactures five lakh litres ice creams per month, under stringent cleaning and hygiene practices. Explaining the importance of achieving desired standards of cleanliness and hygiene, said Dange, largely depended on the infrastructure and layout of the unit.
The main areas of focus before installing the processing equipment in a factory are the flooring, the drainage system, nature of the side walls and layout considering the movement of people, raw material and processed material.
Sturdy floors with appropriate slopes to ensure proper flow of fluids into the drainage system; proper drainage system that can be opened, cleaned and sanitised easily; crevices-free sidewalls either tiled or painted with anti fungal paint; oil-painted ceilings; covered lightings in the manufacturing and storage space; are some of the other points at the layout suggested by Dange.
At the manufacturing end, he added points like proper waterline, source of water, set up of RO plants or UV treatment plants, flush doors, air curtains, fly insectocutors at entry points, screens on every window to obstruct entry of birds or insects and plastic strips between two departments to avoid cross contamination.
The surrounding area of the premises, said Dange, 8-10 feet from the wall of the building should be tarred; no unwanted things should be lying along the periphery of the wall and no weeds growing at least eight feet from the wall of the building.
“Here at the Baskin Robbins unit, we have acid and alkaline proof Mandana flooring which are cleaned using brush & soap; walls in certain places have tiling up to the ceiling and up to seven feet in other areas which are washed regularly using detergent soap and sanitized with QAC (Quatcide) harmless chemicals from JohnsonDiversey.”
The treated MIDC water with around 50ppm to 100ppm hardness is very good, yet water is treated through filtration, de-chlorination and softening systems provided by Aquarius. Daily one lakh litres of water gets filtered. The overhead tanks where water is stored for production, is cleaning with liquid soap every six months by our staff.
Cleaning in Place
Cleaning-in-Place systems form an integral part of the food processing unit. Stainless steel storage tanks, processing vessels and freezers are the three main areas connected to the CIP system. The system is equipped with different compartments to make up chemicals that are circulated through spray balls using high pressure pump. Temperature and the concentration of the solution play an important role in this system of cleaning.
“Visible verification of cleaning levels is also important,” said Dange. “All process tanks storage tanks, pipelines are cleaned twice daily. First thing in the morning, we do a CIP of whatever equipment required and then start the processing. At the end of production day we go for CIP again. Intermittent, in case of requirement, CIP is done. CIP is a part and parcel of a manufacturing facility. We also do swab tests after CIP.”
In order not to miss out lapse in cleaning at any level, there are various procedures adopted. For instance, in ice creaming making there are two stages involved – making mix and making ice cream. First the mix is pasteurised and in the process all the pathogenic bacteria content is removed from where it is taken up for ice cream conversion. There are a number of critical places identified as per HACCP. Samples are drawn from these areas to confirm that everything is right.
Personal hygiene is another area that Baskin Robbins initiated with training of all its 45 workers who have been with this plant for over 12-15 years. Workers have been trained on the importance of personal hygiene, the procedures to be followed and its adverse affects. “On a daily basis there are various controlling systems as personal hygiene is one the most important factors playing a role here as the worker is directly handling the ingredients, the products and the packaging material. Daily bathing, shaven face, cut & clean nails are recorded on a daily basis under various codes. Workers faulting around four times a month are called in by the QA and advised accordingly.”
Workers are provided with fresh laundered clothing, aprons, masks and caps. Hygiene stations equipped with liquid soap, hand sanitizer from JohnsonDiversey and hand dryers are suitably located before entering the processing unit. The foot bath takes away the soil from the shoes. Tissue napkins rolls provided by Pudumjee are provided at every station in place of dusters.
Besides random checks, swab tests of workers’ hands are drawn to check for bacteria levels. Medical check ups are done regularly and workers reporting sick are kept away from the production line.
Raw materials – dairy products, tinned fruits, chocolates, stabilisers, dry fruits, etc. – entering this factory come from approved suppliers and are subjected to stringent tests before being taken up. “Raw material received at the gate is referred to the QA department for approval. It is marked in yellow indicating that it is in the process of approval. This is basically because the micro samples drawn to check for e-coli can be detected only after 24 hours. If rejected it is marked red. If the QA confirms the raw material as acceptable, it is conveyed through GRN, marked green and forwarded to the production line. Rejected material taken away by the vendor.
Baskin Robbins has an effluent treatment plant (ETP) in place. One person is stationed at this plant to organise wet and dry waste which is disposed off or treated daily. “At present we are managing the plant ourselves.”
At the plan layout, it is also essential to identify the areas that require, say for example, rodent control or fly control and accordingly the agency should be directed to do the weekly maintenance. Poison baits for rodents should always be outside the factory, glue pads or catchers can be used inside the factory. The chemicals & the agency should be government approved and the dosage should be administered according to the requirement. Pest Terminator, Pune, provides pest control services at Baskin Robbins.
Hired vehicles carrying the finished products too comply with norms. The QA department inspects the vehicles aspects, temperature and cleaning & sanitation which are done in the presence of the QA officer before loading. The transit form is filled up by the factory detailing all product conditions and the same is endorsed by the receiving location. This ensures safe delivery of the products. Vehicles are also provided with Temperature Data loggers which records temperatures inside the vehicle during transit on road.