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Automated temperature monitoring in the Secret Smokehouse

All food producers must adhere to numerous regulations, and standards, with the end goal of ensuring the quality and safety of food. A key requirement for HACCP and food safety is continuous temperature monitoring. This involves recording and documenting the temperatures of all fridges, freezers and areas where climate sensitive foods are stored.

The Secret Smokehouse supply high quality smoked fish to some of the UK’s top Michelin star chefs and restaurants, as well as Delhi’s and a small group of direct customers. A small, but rapidly growing operation, they were actually nominated for ‘Best Producer’ in the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2017, and are proud to work with the likes of Jamie Oliver, Claude Bosi and the Clove Club in Shoreditch, to name a few.

 

The challenge.

As a small-scale food producer, the EHO (Environmental Health Organisation) expect the business to be able to demonstrate how it manages HACCP and records what it does to make the food safe. A major part of this, is documentation of temperature values to show produce is stored correctly. The EHO also favour a method where they are able to see the checks have been done, without having to visit the premises physically each time.

Before implementing testo Saveris 2, Secret Smokehouse were checking temperature using a combination of spot checks with a thermometer and reading the fridge/freezer thermostats. This means all checks are done so manually, and recorded with a pen and paper. Also, as they have since discovered, fridge thermostats aren’t always completely accurate. When opening the fridge or freezer door, the temperature reading on the thermostat dropped very quickly. This would indicate the produce was at a high risk of not being stored correctly. The smokehouse suspected this might not reflect the true temperature drop, so wanted to explore installing a monitoring system to prove this.

The other issue with the previous methodology, was if there was an issue with a temperature deviation (from a loss of power or freezer door being left open for example), they wouldn’t know until the next check. This could be too late to save valuable stock.

This drove Max Bergius, owner of Secret Smokehouse, to explore options to simplify and, if possible, automate their temperature control. Research lead Max to Testo Saveris 2, with the standout advantages of using cloud software to demonstrate due diligence and the removal of taking measurements manually.

 

The solution.

Testo’s Saveris 2 is an automated temperature monitoring system that stores all measurement data in one central place. Multiple measuring points can be incorporated into the same system, meaning all fridges, freezers and storage locations are monitored simultaneously, with measurement data being transported directly to the cloud. This removes the need to collect data manually and the results can then be accessed by the dedicated person remotely, via PC, tablet or smartphone. This means there is no longer a potential for readings to go missing.

 

 

Testo Saveris 2 loggers are used to monitor temperature in refrigerators and a freezer.

 

In the Secret Smokehouse’s case, they are using a total of 4 loggers to monitor their 3 fridges and 1 freezer. They also use the probe from one of their loggers to spot check on each fish, once smoked. Speaking to Harri Walters, production manager at Secret Smokehouse, he explained how with the introduction of testo Saveris 2, they are already reaping the benefits of an automated monitoring system:

Before introducing a testo Saveris 2 monitoring system, Harri would need to perform a series of temperature spot checks; once in the morning and once at closing. Harri estimates that by removing the need to check the fridges manually, they save 5-10 minutes per day. Admittedly, as a relatively small operation this time saving isn’t enormous, however, with only 2 employees in the business, any additional time is precious. And as a former chef, Harri knows all too well that in a high-pressure kitchen environment these time restraints are only amplified. In either case, Harri concluded, the last thing you need is additional tasks to worry about.

The biggest advantage by far is not having to worry about it as much. As mentioned previously, the EHO (Environmental Health Organisation) expect small food businesses to be able to demonstrate how they manage and records what measures they take to ensure their food is safe. Testo’s Saveris 2 provides a straight forward way of proving due diligence and that they are monitoring temperature effectively.

Testo Saveris 2 – The advantages.

Saves Time – Without an automated system in place, an employee has to go through the whole site manually, checking each location. By automating this, all data is sent directly to cloud storage, allowing you / your employee additional time to focus on other important jobs. Reports are also collated and sent to you automatically so you don’t have to lift a finger.

Saves Money – employing a temperature monitoring system can save you money in the long run, on wasted stock, product recalls etc. If there is a potential problem, thanks to the alarm function, you will be notified immediately, before it is too late.

Secure and accessible remotely – all data is stored in one central, secure place. Reports can be sent directly to you via email, so you don’t need to waste time checking each individual logger (or even going to the site for that matter). Alarms can be set to send via email, SMS or App.

User friendly – some monitoring systems require time-consuming installation and maintenance but with a wireless system such as testo’s Saveris 2 it is very simple to get set up and started.

 

“With the Testo system our temperature monitoring is practically effortless, and we no longer need to worry. All kitchens should invest; as a chef or food professional the last thing you need is additional tasks.

Testo have been very friendly and professional during installation and throughout – a pleasure to deal with.”

Harri Walters – Production Manager, Secret Smokehouse

 

Like some more info?

For more information on testo Saveris 2 or any of Testo’s solutions please go to www.testo.co.uk or call us on +44 1420 544433 and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

 

Get to know Testo’s food safety equipment and measuring technology

The frequency of UK food alerts has been steadily increasing in recent years. As the food standards agency reports, there were 56 food alerts issued in both 2013 and in 2014. The frequency in 2015 and 2016 was more than double that (121 and 148 food alerts respectively).

With this increase, the need for effective quality processes is emphasised. Both to reduce the risk of such an event occurring, and to provide proof of the highest level of due diligence, should an irreversible issue of this nature occur. Manufacturers therefore, need to be confident that both their processes and safety equipment are bulletproof. Keeping such cases to a minimum is of course the end goal, but quality managers need the correct tools to ensure safety and the company’s HACCP plan is upheld.

Here we go through some of the most important safety equipment and measurement technology, for establishments to protect the safety and reputation of their operation:

 

Automated temperature monitoring

One overnight system failure can cost a company hundreds of thousands of pounds in wasted goods, an this is something that ironically, can be very easily avoided with an automated temperature monitoring system.

Testo’s Saveris 2 for example, is a cloud-based system that logs and stores all measurement data in one central place. Facility managers can place a wi-fi data logger in the warehouse or storage room to monitor fluctuations in temperature and have alerts sent to their email or phone. The user can then access the readings via their computer tablet or smartphone via the App.

Another advantage of an automated system, is it removes the need to collect data manually, meaning staff can use this additional time for other important tasks. Additionally, having data collated automatically, means there is no longer a potential for gaps, or readings to go missing. Handy in the case of audits.

 

Data loggers

As well as monitoring systems, Testo manufacture data loggers suitable for a range of applications in the food processing sector. These range from low-cost loggers for measuring temperature in a cold storage room for instance, right through to the temperature of production items or the surface temperature of machines or motors themselves and have the capability to measure even the most extreme temperature ranges, for high-end production processes. All Testo data loggers are certified for HACCP.

 

Thermometers

 

Thermometers are required in a number of applications during food manufacturing, for simple temperature spot checks. In this sector more than most, robustness is a hugely important factor for equipment. The Testo 108 thermometer for example, is waterproof, sturdy, and has an IP rating of IP67, making it ideal for manufacturing plants. It also has the option for colour-coded cases, meaning you can allocate different probes to specific food groups, avoiding contamination. All Testo thermometers are certified for HACCP.

 

 

 

Infrared thermometers

Infrared measurement can be a very useful feature in the food industry, particularly in the processing and retail sectors. It can be used as a quick indicator for surface temperature of the product, when penetration isn’t appropriate (if this will cause irreversible damage for example). Testo produce a range of infrared thermometers, ideal for spot checks during manufacturing processes.

 

 

pH Meters

Testing pH levels is a common method of deducing if edible materials are fit for the public. pH levels impact the appearance, taste and quality of food products. For example, during yoghurt production, improper pH levels can cause discolouration or insufficient tartness. In contrast, incorrect pH values in pork impact’s the meat’s water holding capacity, negatively affecting the product’s saleability. Testo’s range of pH meters are ideal for measuring the pH value of semi-solid media, viscous and protein-containing foodstuffs (eg. processed cheese, fruit).

 

Cooking Oil Tester

Cooking oil testing is being used more and more within the restaurant and hospitality sector, but can also be used to the advantage of food manufacturing facilities for products where frying is required (crisps or donut production for example). In order to ensure you’re being economical with your oil, you need to test the TPM (total polar material) levels. The testo 270 Cooking Oil Tester offers a solution for controlling cooking oil consumption, as well as testing oil quality, to ensure consistent product quality. The testo 270 has been certified by both HACCP and NSF.

 

Thermal Imaging Cameras

Thermal imaging can be used in food production to reduce downtime, by checking mechanical components for wear so preventative maintenance can be scheduled to replace components that have degraded over time, before they cause failure and loss of production.

Another area a thermal camera can be used is in refrigerators or cold storage rooms. Using thermal imaging, you can identify areas where mould and other bacteria can grow putting food at risk and also detect faulty seals on refrigerated units leading to wasted energy.

 

Like some more info?

 

If you’re interested in finding out more about how Testo equipment can be used to help with your food safety strategy, please go to www.testo.co.uk

 

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

 

 

How restaurant chains can ensure HACCP & Food Safety is upheld across multiple sites

Despite concerns surrounding the impact of Brexit, the hospitality sector continues to develop year on year. Both new and existing food service providers though, are looking at ways they can optimise costs, whilst still capitalising on any new revenue opportunities. One of the most common ways of doing this is of course expanding to new locations, developing as a ‘chain’.

 

One of the most difficult challenges for chains though, is making sure to maintain a level of consistency across multiple sites. Once standards are defined, multi-site operations managers must ensure these are upheld across the board.

 

Digital quality management systems allow food service providers to standardise quality processes across all locations

 

The responsible person needs to be confident they are in control, which is a challenge in itself, because they can’t be in more than one place at once. Food service providers need to be able to offer the customer the same high level of customer experience, every time, without exception. And the larger the operation, the more difficult standardisation becomes, and the greater the risk of these differing from one outlet to another. This can put pressure on operating processes and procedures.

 

When dealing with food, quality management and food safety is of course a huge part of daily processes. Throughout the food industry, numerous quality checks must be made to ensure HACCP and food safety are upheld. And as we’ve seen with the most recent high-profile food safety scandal, involving the UK’s top supplier of supermarket chicken, not having sufficient standards in place can have dire and far reaching consequences.

 

For restaurants and food service businesses then, as much as being a well-recognised chain has a number of upsides, risk is also increased and has the potential to be devastating. Whilst being a strong brand is unquestionably a positive, should there be an issue at one of the sites, isolated or not, this has potential to massively mar the reputation of the chain as a whole. A notable example of this is of course Chipotle, who suffered a major reputation hit in 2016 after several of their US restaurants reported outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella, and norovirus.

 

Operators therefore, need to make sure their HACCP and food safety management standards are maintained across the board. The way most chains are looking to optimise this, is with a paperless quality management system. By using a system such as testo’s Saveris Restaurant to make processes paperless, food service providers are able to standardise quality processes across all locations. Once the initial quality plan is established, this can be easily rolled out to other branches. This will help ensure a greater level of productivity throughout the business.

 

As well as standardising across sites, there are a number of additional advantages associated with switching to a paperless quality management system. Here is an overview:

  • Efficiency and resource saving – In restaurants and food service facilities, as part of the required quality checks, all fridges, freezers and storage areas need to have their temperature regulated. With a digital system, these tasks are automated, giving the site more manpower to focus elsewhere.
  • Less risk of human errors – with a paperless system the user is guided through each process, step by step, and if a check is missed, the responsible person is notified immediately.
  • Standardisation across multiple sites – As mentioned previously, standardising quality checks helps chains provide the same great customer experience every time.
  • Data protection and easy reporting – potential for lost data or checks being missed is no longer an issue, which will help operators demonstrate the highest level of due diligence, when an audit occurs.

 

testo Saveris Restaurant allows regional managers to monitor all sites remotely

 

All in all, employing a digital quality management system should help to provide peace of mind for the multi-site operations director. Ultimately regional managers can’t physically be in every branch at once. System’s such as testo’s Saveris Restaurant provide them with a way they can monitor all sites remotely, in the most transparent and efficient way possible.

 

Like some more info?

If you would like more information on Testo’s food safety instruments and solutions please visit www.testo.co.uk

Alternatively if you’ve got a requirement you’d like to discuss, you can call us on 01420 544433 and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

 

Discover testo’s measuring solutions for food safety at Hotelympia

Next month, Testo will be at Hotelympia, demonstrating our equipment for the restaurant and hospitality sector, outlining how these can not only help operators ensure they are storing and cooking food safely, but also improve process efficiency, ultimately saving valuable resource.

A highlight will be Testo’s ‘Saveris Restaurant’, a 100% paperless quality management system, for which we’ll be providing live demos on stand by showing our fridge temperature on the big screen. By removing the need for paper and automating many checks it helps reduce operating costs and improve efficiency. Processes can then be rolled out across multiple sites, helping operators demonstrate due diligence and ensure quality checks are completed.

 

 

Testo will also be demonstrating the much-publicised testo 270 Cooking Oil Tester, and our team we’ll be happy to explain this process and how regular testing can help businesses to save up to 20% on frying oil costs, whilst ensuring a consistent quality of product.

 

Another focus product is Testo’s Saveris 2, automated temperature monitoring system. A cloud-based system that stores all measurement data in one central place, Testo’s Saveris 2 removes the need to collect data manually, meaning staff can use this time for other important tasks. There is also no longer a potential for readings to go missing. Handy for audits.

 

Testo will have our full range of food safety measurement instruments on show

 

As well as those mentioned, Testo will have our full range of instruments on display including data loggers, thermometers and more. Visit us on stand 1838 and our experts will be happy to discuss the market, and how Testo products can be used to help foodservice providers run a safe, efficient and profitable kitchen.

 

About the show

In March 2018, London welcomes back the UK’s market leading hospitality and foodservice event. For over 82 years, Hotelympia has represented hospitality innovation, bringing thousands of businesses together, championing one of the UK’s most vibrant industries.

Testo will be within the professional Kitchen Show, which has been described as the UK’s largest collection of catering equipment suppliers under one roof. Featuring a range of guest speakers, it is your one stop shop to find, test and purchase the latest products and innovations that will drive both efficiency and profitability in your kitchen. Register free using the below detail:

Venue: Excel London

Dates: 5th -8th March

Section: The Professional Kitchen show

Stand number: 1838

Register for free tickets at: http://www.hotelympia.com/  

 

Like some more info?

If you would like more information on Testo’s food safety instruments and solutions please visit www.testo.co.uk

Alternatively if you’ve got a requirement you’d like to discuss, you can call us on 01420 544433 and we’ll be happy to help.