There are many valid reasons why it’s important to invest in smart temperature technologies that will protect your customers, your business, and make your operation more efficient. Traditional monitoring has involved taking a reading periodically with an indicating thermometer or relying on a temperature recording chart (also known as “temp wheels”). While “temp wheels” have been standard issue for many years, they can be difficult to read, there’s labor involved in replacing them, and they’re prone to error. The following are some reasons why you should consider installing digital temperature monitoring devices:
Reason #1: Food Safety
Among all external microbiological growth factors, temperature remains one of the most critical to food safety. Yes, we all know the mantra – “keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold”. A simple rule that’s applied across the board. But in practice we have to be specific about monitoring and recording those temperatures. It’s not enough to say the cooler works. What about temperature fluctuations during different seasons or defrost cycles? This data needs to be captured as it can provide valuable insight into how well the process is actually being controlled. Under FSMA, any step determined to be a preventive control must be monitored and records must be kept.
Reason #2: Food Quality
Depending on the type of food, temperature plays an important role in maintaining quality. It’s generally accepted in the food industry that the lower temperature you store a food, even a food not requiring refrigeration, the longer the shelf life of those products. When we talk about shelf life, we’re specifically talking about those quality factors that impact the eating experience, such as texture, taste, mouth feel, color, odor, etc. Although this may not apply to finished products, some manufacturers choose to refrigerate or freeze ingredients to extend the shelf life. A longer shelf life means less wasted product and makes for a more efficient operation. Unknown deviations in temperature could affect product quality.
Reason #3: Overall Efficiency
With digital cloud-based thermometers, there is no need to constantly replace and calibrate temperate wheels. There’s also no need to have an employee go around taking ambient temperatures with an indicating thermometer and recording it. They can focus on higher priority functions such as ensuring employee practices are adhered or that products are being made to specification. The data can also be accessed from anywhere with the additions of smartphone apps. There is also no need to scan paperwork into an existing electronic system. Saving time for your quality and food safety staff equates to saving money and preventing costly mistakes.
Reason #4: Easy Access to Records
If you a large facility who is subjected to several audits per year (or even per month), you want to have fast and easy access to temperature monitoring records. You may have the federal, state, and local government to deal with plus third party audits, customer audits, and Kosher inspections. Having electronic records gets you the information faster and more efficiently, ensuring a smooth audit. This also means the inspector isn’t waiting around and you don’t have to go digging for paperwork.
Reason #5: Prevent “Dry-labbing”
So-called “dry-labbing” is the practice of filling in data on a form that was not actually observed or performed. Generally we trust our employees working in food safety to do a thorough and accurate job when filling out monitoring records. But the food industry moves insanely fast. Production seems to never stop all the while you are trying to put fires out all over the place. It’s hectic and stressful. However, as busy as people get, we never want them to be in a position where they think that since the cooler has been 40°F for the past 30 days in a row that it will be the same today. This may lead an employee, for whatever reason to write down 40°F when the temperature wasn’t actually taken. This can lead to a systematic failure. Digital temperature monitoring can prevent such a failure if properly implemented.