Characterization of regional Portuguese kitchens for alheiras de Vinhais (PGI) production with respect to the processing conditions, final product quality and legal framing uri icon


  • Alheira de Vinhais is a traditional fermented meat product, produced in the North of Portugal, generally in small units called regional kitchens. In the present study, the requisites established by the European and Portuguese normatives and how these are being applied in these kitchens are discussed. In addition, the evaluation of the hygienic, sanitary and environmental conditions in those establishments, as well as, the microbiological quality of the final product are reported. In order to characterize the processing units, a check-list was applied and microbiological analysis of environmental samples and alheiras were performed. The present work allowed verifying that, despite of some shortcomings, the basic hygiene and the overall processing conditions were appropriate for small-scale production of alheiras. In fact, the structural and functional conditions of the regional kitchens that were assessed were found to be quite satisfactory and complied with the European and Portuguese normative. Even though there are excep- tions in the European regulation for these kinds of products, Portugal has normative applicable to these products that are sufficient to guarantee the food quality and safety. In regards to the microbiological environment air quality, unsatisfactory food processing hygienic conditions were sometimes observed. Microorganisms, such as yeasts/molds, coliforms and E. coli, indicative of poor hygiene practices were only found four times on surfaces and equipment. Most of the time, the food handlers had clean hands. Microorganisms associated with foodborne illnesses, such as Salmonella spp., S. aureus and Listeria spp. were not detected in any sample. Thus, the results obtained showed that the production of this kind of products must be promoted, since good hygiene and manufacturing practices are followed.

publication date

  • January 1, 2012