Category Archives: Top Tip

Acrylamide Legislation: What’s the panic about and how does the food industry need to react?

With the uncertainty around the new acrylamide legislation coming in to place in April 2018, many companies within the food industry are looking to further understand what is required of them.

 

Acrylamide typically occurs when foods with high starch content such as potatoes, are cooked at high temperatures

 

For those who aren’t aware, Acrylamide is a chemical substance produced by something called the ‘Maillard reaction’, which is when starch is overheated to cause a reaction between amino acids and sugars. It typically occurs when foods with high starch content such as potatoes, root vegetables or bread, crisps, cakes, biscuits and cereals, are cooked at high temperatures during the frying, roasting or baking process. It is important to clarify that acrylamide is not something which has been added to food, it is a natural by-product of cooking processes, and has always been present in these types of foods.

 

 

What are the dangers?

Recent scientific tests have led to acrylamide being classified as a ‘probable carcinogen’. This has prompted scientists to conclude it is advisable humans minimise consumption of this particular chemical, to in turn, reduce cancer potential.

 

How must the food industry react?

Whilst it is not possible to simply remove acrylamide, there are a number of measures which can be taken to reduce the levels. The legislation says that practical measures must be taken to mitigate acrylamide formation in foods. As stated by the Food Standards Agency, from April 2018 Food Business Operators will be expected to:

  • Be aware of acrylamide as a food safety hazard and have a general understanding of how acrylamide is formed in the food they produce
  • Take the necessary steps to mitigate acrylamide formation in the food they produce; adopting the relevant measures as part of their food safety management procedures
  • Undertake representative sampling and analysis where appropriate, to monitor the levels of acrylamide in their products as part of their assessment of the mitigation measures
  • Keep appropriate records of the mitigation measures undertaken, together with sampling plans and results of any testing

For the first of these points, hopefully this article will serve to help improve knowledge around the subject. For those issues remaining, we will now explain how measuring equipment can be used to help. Aside from using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (a complicated and chemically technical process to measure acrylamide itself) there are in fact some ‘quick win’ methods businesses can take to keep presence of acrylamide to a minimum.

When it comes to both food storage and cooking, managing temperature is in fact the main factor for the formation of acrylamide. Firstly, from the cooking side, as mentioned previously, acrylamide levels are increased by excessively elevated temperatures. A particularly high amount is produced when potato and cereal-containing foods are heated above 180°C. Acrylamide formation begins at around 120°C, but increases rapidly at 170-180°C. This needs to be considered by those involved in any type of cooking or even pre-cooking during food processing for example. With these types of products, it is advisable for them to be cooked at a lower temperature than usual, for slightly longer periods if required.

For fried foods in particular, such as French fries, the temperature of the oil needs to be ensured. Unfortunately though, you can’t always rely on fryer thermostats, as these often fail to show an accurate temperature. With an instrument such as the testo 270 Cooking Oil Tester, you can simultaneously measure both the temperature (up to 200°C) and the quality of the oil. Whilst TPM (total polar materials) measurement and acrylamide formation are not directly correlated, this is also very important for being economical with oil costs, and ensuring a consistent quality of product. By adding this as a simple spot check, operators can ensure fried foods are being cooked at the right temperature to keep acrylamide levels at bay, whilst also optimising their oil consumption, saving up to 20%. Documenting this check will also prove handy when it comes to audits, as proof of due diligence regarding the ‘records of the mitigation measures undertaken’ mentioned above.

 

 

With the testo 270 Cooking Oil Tester, you can measure both the temperature (up to 200°C) and the quality of the cooking oil.

 

On the flip side, during storage, one of the main steps recommended by the FSA is not to keep raw potatoes in the fridge, particularly if you intend on cooking them at high temperatures. Doing so is likely to lead to formation of more free sugars in the potatoes (referred to as ‘cold sweetening’) and can increase overall acrylamide levels especially if the potatoes are then fried, roasted or baked. Ideally, potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark place at a temperature of 6°C or above. As with the fryer temperature though, once again, for accurate temperature readings, unfortunately you cannot simply rely on thermostats, as these more often than not don’t reflect the true ambient temperature in the room. In this case a temperature monitoring system such as testo Saveris 2 would be the ideal solution, to ensure the temperature in the cold storage room is kept at the optimum level at all times.

 

  The testo Saveris 2 can ensure the temperature in the cold storage room is kept at the optimum level at all times.

 

Like more info?

For more information on the new legislation please visit the Food Standards Agency website.

If you would like further information on testo measurement equipment please visit www.testo.co.uk or call us on 01420 5444 33

 

 

Testo Flue Gas Analysers come out on top in new review

In a recent article posted by Heating Force, testo Flue Gas Analysers have been recommended as the best Analysers for both price and functionality. The review takes a look at the testo 310 and testo 327-1 and compares it with competitors’ products. A useful insight into the unique features available on each of the products reviewed is presented in this ‘3-minute guide to the best Flue Gas Analysers’. This is helpful for consumers looking to make an educated purchase and find the correct Analyser to fulfil their requirements.

In the review, the testo products are noted for their user-friendly interfaces and durability and ultimately, they come out on top as the best value Flue Gas Analysers with the author concluding, testo “offer mid-priced products with top-end features.” Click here to read the full article.

Like some more info?

For information on testo’s range of Flue Gas Analysers or any of our products please visit our website www.testo.co.uk or give us a call on +44 1420 544433 and we’ll be happy to help.

 

Carry out measuring tasks on heating systems efficiently and safely with Testo’s free practical guide

Testo is pleased to offer a free practical guide for heating engineers. Following the tips and tricks in this guide will help to ensure measuring tasks on heating systems are carried out efficiently and safely. Heating engineers have to make sure oil, gas and solid fuel systems are running perfectly on a daily basis. Thats why, as gas safety experts, Testo have compiled this compact practical guide to support engineers in this task.

 

 

Key information includes:

  • How to set the gas-air ratio perfectly
  • Tightness and Let-by testing
  • How to determine efficiency and flue gas loss
  • What settings are needed for oil burners

All this has been compressed into a few pages which are filled with lots of valuable, practical tips.

Download the practical guide now. Free of charge and with no obligation.

Like some more info?

For information on testo’s measuring solutions for heating or any of our products please visit our website www.testo.co.uk or give us a a call on +44 1420 544433 and we’ll be happy to help

 

 

Why so called ‘cheap’ thermometers are costing you more than you think

As all those in the Food, Service or Catering industries will know well, the ability to make quick temperature spot checks is an essential part of your daily routine. There are a number of foods which must be cooked at a minimum internal temperature in order to remove any harmful bacteria; from meat and poultry, to eggs and other products. Utilising a food thermometer is the easiest way of taking such measurements; ensuring both safety and that food is cooked to the desired taste. They also provide an easy way of making certain that prepared food is kept at the appropriate temperature prior to being served (although you of course need to make sure you either use a different thermometer to measure cooked foods, or sanitise appropriately).

 

The testo 104 food probe thermometer allows you to carry out quick and easy spot checks during the production, storage and processing of food 

 

Since a food thermometer is such an important tool in food preparation, making sure you have a fully functioning, reliable thermometer available at all times is absolutely essential. The problem is, with so many cheap, poorly manufactured thermometers available, many businesses are tempted by the low price point. To an extent this is understandable, if the person responsible for sourcing the company’s equipment is looking through a brochure or website, it can be hard to differentiate between models when it comes to things like robustness and build quality. It looks the same, so I may as well buy the cheap one, right? In the short term, perhaps this is the case, but a few months/years down the line, try taking another look at the numbers when it comes to replacement units. You’d be surprised.

In many cases, we’ve found the frequent turn-around of thermometers is more of an issue than you’d think, particularly for those facilities and restaurant chains which are buying in large quantities. And with costs continuing to rise in the restaurant industry, any way a business can cut costs and improve efficiency is of course very welcome. According to the latest Benchmarking Report from ALMR Christie & Co. operating costs across all trading styles now stand at an all-time high of 51.5% of turnover, with growth across the entire survey at 1.1%.

Some of the cheaper models are so flimsy, with such poor build quality they can almost be considered disposable. For example, say you’re paying £15 to £20 per thermometer, and these are being replaced every 2-3 months because of it being dropped or getting wet, the battery running out, probe snapping or the unit just packing in all-together because of poor build quality, this soon adds up and isn’t doing much good for your equipment budget. Not to mention the added hassle of getting more equipment ordered on a regular basis, and the risk of a situation where there is no available thermometer to make a simple spot check, leaving you no adequate way of making the required checks, and ultimately putting you and your customers at risk.

 

Only by using top quality thermometers like those from testo can you guarantee both accuracy and longevity

 

In this situation, it may make sense to explore a more robust option, for instance a robust waterproof thermometer which could last 5 to 6 times longer. Some manufacturers, for example testo, offer a 2-year warranty of all thermometers, so you can be sure they have been built to last. In many industries, but particularly when dealing with such delicate substances as you do within the food sector, there needs to be a certain degree of emphasis on ‘quality over quantity’. Like with so many things in life you get what you pay for, and thermometers are no exception.

Further to the issues surrounding longevity, when it comes to cheap thermometers, are issues regarding functionality and, more importantly, accuracy. Cheap thermometers will only offer very basic functions whilst top quality thermometers can offer more than one measuring function, for example infrared for non-contact measurement as well as a penetration probe for core temperatures. In terms of taking accurate measurements, by using a cheap thermometer you can’t be certain you are even getting the correct measurements and of course when using a measurement device accuracy can be critical.

Like some more info?

For more information on testo thermometers please go to www.testo.co.uk or give us a call on +44 1420 544433 and we’ll be happy to help.

Testo pledges its support for Gas Safety Week 2017

Testo Limited has pledged its support for Gas Safety Week (18-24 September 2017).  The seventh annual Gas Safety Week will see organisations from across the UK work together, to encourage all gas consumers to make sure they have their gas appliances checked annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer and protect against the dangers of unsafe gas appliances, such as fires, leaks, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

With 21 deaths and over 800 gas-related injuries in the last three years1, it’s crucial that people have their appliances checked each year to be assured they are working safely and efficiently. People should also Trust the Triangle and check that their engineer is Gas Safe registered. Anyone working on gas appliances while not being registered is working illegally.

Mike Murley, Marketing Director at Testo Limited commented, “As a leading manufacturer of gas safety instruments, Testo is proud to support Gas Safety Week. Testo instruments, such as flue gas analysers and gas leak detectors, are used by Gas Safe registered engineers to ensure that domestic boilers are operating safely and efficiently and to provide consumers with evidence of this”.

 

Testo instruments are used by Gas Safe registered engineersto ensure that domestic boilers are operating safely and efficiently 

 

Stay Gas Safe at home this Gas Safety Week by following these top tips:

  • Sign up to a free annual gas safety check reminder service at staygassafe.co.uk
  • Be aware of the signs that an unsafe gas appliance may cause such as a lazy yellow flame instead of a crisp blue flame; soot or staining on or around the appliance; excess condensation in the room
  • Know the symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. CO gas is known as the ‘silent killer’ as it has no smell, taste or colour. The symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness, which can easily be mistaken for something else
  • ‘Trust the Triangle’ and always ask to see an engineer’s Gas Safe ID card and check it to make sure the engineer is qualified to check or fit the appliance in question.

Like some more info?

For information on testo’s Flue Gas Analysers and Gas Leak Detectors or any of our products please visit our website www.testo.co.uk or give us a a call on +44 1420 544433 and we’ll be happy to help

 

 

1  21 people died from gas related incidents in the UK in the last three years and 815 non-fatalities were reported (Source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/tables/#riddor (Gas Safety section) statistics 2013-16 (provisional))