March 19, 2007
STANDARDS FOR ICE CREAM PRODUCTION IN FOOD TRUCKS
By: Lila McKinley, Legislative Fellow
You asked for regulations regarding the production of ice cream in food trucks. Specifically, you asked what the pasteurization requirements are for producing ice cream in a truck.
Standards for ice cream production are governed by the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP). The law requires anyone who produces and sells ice cream to obtain a DCP license, which is issued in accordance with DCP regulations.
The regulations generally address sanitation standards and apply to all ice cream producing facilities. There are specific regulations that address mobile units such as an ice cream and pizza truck. These regulations establish sanitation and equipment standards. They also exempt mobile units from certain regulations pertaining to stationary ice cream making facilities.
The regulations also stipulate requirements for making ice cream mix. They address pasteurization requirements, including the appropriate times and temperatures at which the process should take place. It is unclear whether the state regulations require a pasteurizing machine in ice cream trucks. But DCP abides by federal regulations, which can be interpreted to implicitly require the use of pasteurizing machines. DCP also requires pasteurizing machines to ensure consumer safety, according to Frank Greene, Chief of DCP's Foods and Standards Division.
ICE CREAM PRODUCTION
The law requires anyone who manufactures frozen desserts or frozen dessert mix for sale, regardless of the size of the operation, to obtain a DCP license (CGS § 21a-51). Frozen desserts include ice cream, custard, and milk shakes (CGS § 21a-48(4)). The commissioner may issue a license only if he believes that the manufacturer has satisfied specific sanitation standards prescribed in regulations (CGS § 21a-53).
Most regulations apply to all facilities producing ice cream, including small- and large-scale operations. However, some address mobile units specifically. For example, mobile units must be (1) sturdy and (2) large enough and its fixtures and equipment conveniently located to eliminate needless steps for operating the equipment and serving customers. They must have (1) a potable water tank with a minimum 20-gallon capacity, and (2) metal floors. They must also follow a specific set of regulations that apply to all facilities (Conn. Agencies Regs. § 21a-58-10). These regulations include sanitation, health, and equipment standards. For example, frozen dessert manufacturers (1) must keep their premise clean and free from refuse and odors, (2) wear clean clothing, (3) practice good hygiene, and (4) have no communicable diseases (Conn. Agencies Regs. §§ 21a-58-1 to 21a-58-9). The regulations do not prescribe pasteurization requirements or explicitly require pasteurizing machines.
Mobile units are exempt from certain general provisions that apply to other stationary facilities including those governing manufacturing, handling, toilet, and pasteurization rooms (Conn. Agencies Regs § 21a-58-10).
FROZEN MIX REGULATIONS
The commissioner has established regulations governing frozen dessert mix based on the American Public Health Association's Standards. The provisions address pasteurization. They describe pasteurization as the process by which each particle of the mix is cooked and held at the following temperatures for the specified times:
1. 155 °F. and holding at such temperature for at least 30 minutes,
2. 160 °F. and holding at such temperature for at least 15 minutes,
3. 165 °F. and holding at such temperature for at least 10 minutes,
4. 170 °F. and holding at such temperature for at least five minutes,
5. 175 ° F. and holding at such temperature for at least 25 seconds,
6. 194 °F. using the Vacreator process,
7. 200 °F. and holding at such temperature for at least three seconds, and
8. 210 °F. or higher with no holding time required (Conn. Agencies Regs. § 21a-58-13(a))
It is unclear if the regulations require the use of a pasteurizing machine for frozen dessert mixes. Although they do not explicitly require pasteurizing machines, because the regulations include provisions that apply only to pasteurizing machines, they can be interpreted to implicitly require a pasteurizing machine. Among other things, the regulations require that there be an accurate thermometer for each pasteurizing machine and that it be inserted through the entire heating process (Conn. Agencies Regs. § 21a-58-13(c)(d)). They also require that the operator of the pasteurizing machine be competent and hold an operator's certificate (Conn. Agencies Regs. § 21a-58-13(b)). However, the regulations also indicate that the commissioner may make exceptions to the prescribed pasteurization process. The regulations state that other pasteurization methods, processes or combination of times and temperatures will not be barred if they meet the commissioner's approval (Conn. Agencies Regs. § 21a-58-13(a)).
DCP POSITION AND FEDERAL REGULATIONS
DCP follows federal regulations on pasteurization requirements, according to Frank Greene, Chief of Foods and Standards Division. Federal regulations do not explicitly require a pasteurizing machine. However, they do require that frozen dessert mix be heated in properly operated equipment (21 CFR § 135.3). Because a properly-operated pasteurizing machine can heat the product to the required temperature for the required amount of time, the regulations can be interpreted to implicitly require a pasteurizing machine.
DCP also requires the use of pasteurizing machines to ensure consumer safety. An alternative heating process, such as cooking the ingredients to a specific temperature, does not ensure that each and every particle is thoroughly heated at the specified temperature. This cooking process tends to produce uneven heating results and may produce a product unsafe for consumption.