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How the food industry is taking advantage of automated monitoring to optimise working procedures and decrease workloads

When it comes to the food industry, no matter which area a company works in, food safety is always a major concern. The sheer scale of end-customer demand, coupled with strict time restraints, puts a huge amount of pressure on the food industry to ensure all produce is carefully monitored and regulated from farm to fork. Practically every point of the process, throughout production, preparation, storage and transport, has potential danger areas regarding spoilage through mismanagement or poor temperature regulation.

Monitoring temperature is a particularly important part of this process. Incorrect climatic conditions can have devastating consequences, and businesses often leave themselves at risk of incurring needless costs should there be a power cut, or system malfunction. This can lead to wasted stock or worse; a legal dispute.

Such costs can be detrimental to both production and reputation (should the tainted stock be distributed) and will ultimately have a negative effect on profit margins.

Within the food industry more and more businesses are opting to use automated temperature monitoring. For certain applications simply using a data logger and noting down readings manually is sufficient, for instance building monitoring where there is no danger of damage to stock and you simply need the records for reference purposes. When dealing with climate sensitive stock though, as is more often than not the case in the food industry, using an alarm fitted system which monitors conditions continuously is fast becoming a necessary requirement. With such a system in place, if there is a problem, you will be notified immediately, so you are able to react straight away, before it is too late. This is particularly useful if you don’t have staff on site 100% time, which let’s face it, most companies don’t the have resource for.

When first introduced, whilst the logic and practicality behind this type of solution is somewhat undeniable, systems were very costly and the quality manager or person responsible for food safety simply couldn’t justify the cost. This has often proved to be the stumbling block for companies looking to move to an automated system, instead sticking with more traditional temperature loggers, and taking manual readings. To an extent this is understandable, “if it’s not broken don’t fix it”, right? Admittedly, in the first instance investment is needed for such a system. In the long run, however, it will likely save the business valuable time and manpower.

For example, if in the current regime a member of staff is required to go around and take checks at numerous locations, this is a needless additional task which could be used for something more productive. And of course, as mentioned previously, the overriding advantage of employing such a system is to act as a contingency measure and protect your operation in the event of a problem or system malfunction. This could end up saving money in the long run, on wasted stock, potential product recalls etc. Another saying comes to mind: “But we’ve always done it that way”. This has been described as the 7 most expensive words for any business; failure to adopt new methodologies can hurt a business in the long run.

 

The above video explains the advantages of an automated temperature monitoring system

What’s more, as technology continues to advance at an astonishing rate, such systems are now becoming available for a fraction of the cost when this type of system first hit the market. Testo’s Saveris 2 for example offers a fully automated temperature monitoring system from under £100 with no additional costs for software. Therefore, it doesn’t cost as much as you’d think to ensure your peace of mind.

 

About testo Food Safety

Testo offer our industry knowledge as well as a wide range of equipment for food safety which will help you meet your quality requirements and give you the reassurance you are storing and cooking your food safely. Our instruments include temperature monitoring systems, data loggers, thermometers, cooking oil testers, PH meters and more.

Whether it is for spot checks or long-term monitoring, from farm to fork, Testo has the right instrument for the job. Want to find out more about testo food safety equipment? Why not visit our website www.testo.co.uk or give us a call on +44 1420 544433 and we’ll be happy to help.

3 common bacteria caused by incorrect food temperature control

If you operate within the cold chain, in production, transportation, as a food laboratory, or anywhere where you are responsible for food handling, you need to be in complete control of your business at all times. Even the slightest change in atmosphere can result in harmful (sometimes even deadly) bacteria spreading through your products.

As with all workplace hazards, prevention and preparation are absolutely key. Providing you are aware of the dangers and have sufficient protection methods in place, such as a digital monitoring system, you can ensure safe and effective service.

 

With a temperature monitoring system you can ensure produce is kept at the correct conditions throughout

 

If you decide not to set up measures for temperature control, you run the enormous risk that your products will be exposed to a number of disease-creating bacteria and pathogens. With most forms of bacteria forming through inadequate storing methods, there is no room to take chances.

If you are found to be liable for causing sickness to the general public, the consequences will be severe, both financially and in terms of the business’ reputation. As we saw recently with the tragic case of the Clock and Key Pub in Tristen, even a small-scale lapse can have devastating repercussions for all involved.

 

Here are three of the most common examples caused by temperature monitoring oversights.

 

  1. Salmonella

This is one of the most common bacterial infections, and has become a notorious threat worldwide, so you would think people would have learned their lesson by now. And yet, time and time again, food vendors and preparation facilities throughout the UK and internationally fail to account for it when handling, storing and cooking food.

Salmonella is most commonly present in raw and undercooked eggs, poultry and meat but has also  been found in fruit and vegetables that have become contaminated. Facilities which prepare milk should also be on the lookout as it has been known to gestate in unpasteurised milk.

Because the presence of this bacteria is dependent on how the food or dairy product in question is cooked, the temperature of your working environment needs to be stable and accurate at all times. If not, the disease has more of a chance to form and spread, which could land you in trouble if the contaminated product hits the shelves.

These lessons should be followed even if the laboratory is only handling raw foods, as rapid temperature fluctuations can still impact the integrity of the product.

 

  1. Campylobacter

Some food laboratories specialise in storing foods before they are transported somewhere or analysed. If these facilities cannot guarantee reliable temperature measurement then there is little point in their operation.

Correct storage is one of the most vital parts of food safety. If it is done incorrectly, the risk of contamination rises greatly, and jeopardises the whole business.

This is especially true with poultry and meat, as both are incredibly sensitive to temperature whether they are in storage or being cooked. Both are susceptible to Campylobacter bacteria, which is known to form during storage and causes cases of food poisoning if it is not eliminated in the cooking process.

 

Meat must be kept at the correct temperature at all stages of the storage and preparation process

 

Even in freezing temperatures the bacteria is not always completely eliminated, however, it is a good place to start. Freezers are one of the areas where a temperature monitoring system is most beneficial, as this can alert managers of any unplanned temperature changes, and ‘nip it in the bud’ so to speak, before it becomes a real issue.

 

  1. Listeria

While Campylobacter can survive freezing temperatures, Listeria can withstand the slightly warmer climate of a refrigerator, where most other illness-causing bacteria perish.

Although Listeria doesn’t quite have the range of Campylobacter and Salmonella when causing illness, it does target those who are vulnerable to sickness in general, meaning it still needs to be taken seriously.

Elderly people, pregnant women and young children are at particular risk of catching the disease, as are those who already have a compromised immune system.

Listeria mainly affects ready-to-eat foods that are commonly stored in the refrigerator, a place that people normally associate with food safety. As the appearance of this bacteria is heavily dependant on cooking, storing and reheating temperature, food laboratory managers need to be cautious at all times.

Again, as with all of these bacteria, as long as the appropriate processes are observed and preventive measures are put in place, food laboratories should be able to produce products that are safe and ready for human consumption.

 

About testo Food Safety

Testo offer our industry knowledge as well as a wide range of equipment for food safety which will help you meet your quality requirements and give you the reassurance you are storing and cooking your food safely. Our instruments include temperature monitoring systems, data loggers, thermometers, cooking oil testers, thermal cameras, PH meters and more.

Whether it is for spot checks or long-term monitoring, from farm to fork, Testo has the right instrument for the job. Want to find out more about testo food safety equipment? Why not visit our website www.testo.co.uk or give us a call on +44 1420 544433 and we’ll be happy to help.