NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, U.S. — ConAgra Mills launched the SafeGuard Treatment & Delivery System for ready-to-eat flour at the Institute of Food Technologists’ (IFT) annual meeting and food exposition, which ends today in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. The integrated production and distribution process preserves gluten functionality and taste while mitigating microbiological risk associated with raw flour.

“Food safety is something you have to attack head on,” said Bill Stoufer, president of Omaha-based ConAgra Mills. “It’s not going away.”

While most flour-based products undergo a validated kill step at the point of production, such as baking or cooking, many products rely on the consumer to perform that step. Thus, consumers may consume flour-containing foods, including cookie dough and frozen pizza, when they are raw or undercooked, which may be unsafe.

The SafeGuard system integrates milling, processing, post-treatment handling and delivery to extend ready-to-eat flour safety assurance from ConAgra Mills’ plants to customers’ plants, according to ConAgra Mills. In the delivery step, tanker washing and sanitation systems are validated and verified. ConAgra Mills has a new fleet of flour tankers that have fewer hatches, aerators, penetrators and hoppers to reduce potential microbiological hot spots.

The SafeGuard system “really protects our customers and their brands,” Stoufer said.

According to a ConAgra Mills’ study that included 1,032 consumers in August 2010, 14% of consumers said they would never buy a retail brand if that brand underwent a recall, 30% said they would never buy a retail brand again if they believed it caused food poisoning, and 53% said they would never return to a restaurant if they contracted food poisoning there.

In the SafeGuard system, pathogen reduction may be customized based on specific product requirements. The pathogen treatment maintains absorption, starch quality, gluten vitality and enzyme activity.

ConAgra Mills is at booth No. 5029 at the IFT event.