In the present work, temperature distribution within an industrial blast chiller with pork leg for Protected Designation of Origin Parma ham production was studied and the slowest cooling zone and the fastest cooling zone were recognized. Moreover, apparent heat transfer coefficients in both positions were calculated and resulted equal to 27.1 and 15.6 W m−2 °C−1, respectively. A finite element method model by distinguishing the three main components (skin, lean meat and bone) of the leg for the unsteady heat transfer during cooling was developed and validated against industrial chiller data. Good agreement between experimental and simulated data was obtained with RMSE value for thermal centre equal to 0.81 °C. Furthermore, in order to introduce CCP limit in the HACCP plan, a microbial growth model of the most important pathogens in meat was developed starting from the heat transfer model results. Temperature as well as pathogen growth were estimated in the case of different plant breakdowns. Defined CCP limit was represented by reaching 11 °C at 5 mm of depth within 2 h from the beginning of the cooling process, moreover a different cooling program was simulated and established as the alternative one.
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