By Joe Dinga Pefok
On the occasion of the 7th edition of the International Day of Beer on Friday, August 1, the country’s brewing giant, ‘Societé Anonyme des Brasseries du Cameroun’, SABC, popularly known as ‘Les Brasserises du Cameroun ‘, invited major media organs to visit one of the company’s factories and a packaging complex in the nation’s economic capital, Douala. Though SABC products run into a wide variety, the focus of the visit was on beer, given what was being celebrated.
The visit offered an exciting opportunity to the journalists, to see the different stages in the long production chain of beer. It was equally an opportunity for the media men and women to discover the multi billion francs state of the art machinery that has been put in place by Les Brasseries du Cameroun, in a production process that meets with international standards and norms and makes for a sustainable guarantee of the high quality of her products.
To SABC, the occasion of this year’s International Day of Beer marked by the visit of the large number of media men and women, was also an opportunity to show case its strong force in quality control in line with its reputation for high quality products, as well as its strong attachment to the principle of food safety security. It is interesting to note that SABC which has six brewing halls, five factories and 11 packaging installations in the country, attained international certification since July 2008 (ISO 9001 – 2008). This means that all what is done in all brewing halls, factories, and packaging installations, strictly conforms to laid down international norms. It is also worth noting that SABC has since been engaged in Food Safety System Certification – FSSC 22000.
Four Main Stages In Beer Production
The visit kicked off from the headquarters of the company the Bali neighbourhood, Douala 1, where the journalists were welcomed by the dynamic General Manager of the company, Francis Baptista, in person.
From there, they proceeded to one of the factories in Koumassi, still in Douala 1.There, the media men and women watched a slide-show and listened to elaborate presentations by technical experts of SABC, on the four main stages which normally take a minimum of 21 days to complete. They range from Brewing, Fermentation, Filtering to Packaging. Laboratory analyses are constantly and diligently carried out in accordance with international norms, to ensure that every process falls in line. The presentations were followed by a visit of he factory proper, with focus on the beer production section.
Meanwhile when Les Brasseries du Cameroun produces beer at its factory at Koumassi, the brew is transported in special tankers to one of the company’s packaging installations at Ndokoti in Douala 111.The tankers are equipped with modern technology to preserve the quality of the products and also ensure a high hygienic requirements during the transportation phase.
Cleaning Of Bottles And Inspection By Machines
At Ndokoti the media men and women were taken to brewery’s packaging installations where they were led on a guided tour by the Director of the centre, Mr Ngatchou, and other technical experts. The sub stage in the packaging chain that handles the cleaning of empty bottles for example is comprised of an electronic machine with four different compartments, to ensure efficiency in the cleaning operation. The machine has a capacity to clean 52.000 bottles in an hour.
Empty bottles that are introduced at the start of the packaging chain go through all the four compartments of the electronic machine. That is not even all. To make assurance doubly sure, the empty bottles continue in the chain into a sophisticated electronic machine for thorough inspection. If a bottle has any little crack or contains even an atom of foreign matter, it is automatically rejected by the machine. The visiting journalists were in fact thrilled by the functioning of that electronic machine, especially after a practical demonstration by the experts. For example, a few drops of water were introduced into a bottle and slipped among those bottles heading to the inspection machine. When the bottle got into the machine for inspection, it was automatically kicked out ofthe chain, into the section reserved for rejected bottles.
Filling And Cocking Of Bottles
Bottles that are cleared by the inspecting machine proceed straight to a huge electronic compartment into which beer in the storage tanks also flow through a tube. The bottles are electronically filled with the brand of beer that is programmed for that day. The electronic machine in place which was installed ion 2009 has a capacity to fill 45.000 bottles in one hour.
A machine, automatically cocks the bottles after ensuring that they contain the volume of the brew. The machine also examines the cocks. Any bottle of beer which contains a lesser quantity of the liquor or which has a cork that is not well fitted, is automatically rejected.
Then follow in the long packaging chain, other aspects like the electronic pasting of stickers on bottles. The stickers contain useful information like the brand name, the alcoholic content, the volume of the beer, the name of the brewery, the date of production, the expiry date of the product, and so on. It should be noted that some of the information is coded. It is also interesting to note that there is also an electronic machine at the packaging installation of Les Brasseries at Ndokoti, Douala, that properly washes all empty crates that come in, before they are once more put into use.
During Ndokoti packaging centre visit, the beer that was being packaged was one of the flag ship products of Les Brasseries du Cameroun, “33” Export. It was also an opportunity for the visitors to celebrate the International Day of Beer, by quaffing the popular friendship drink, “33” Export, barely a few minutes after it was bottled. Interestingly enough, the beer was as cold as though it came out straight from a refrigerator.