Why are time and temperature so important when managing food quality?
Time and temperature are important factors for measuring and registering food quality critical control points (CCPs).
Especially during the process of cooking food (for instance, in sous vide cooking) it’s essential that the desired cooking temperature is attained within a set time limit. This makes sure any possible microorganisms in the food are killed to make the end product safe.
Additionally, the combination of time and temperature is an important factor when it comes to safely storing prepared meals.
In every food safety management system, temperature is a CCP during:
- Presentation / serving the customer
In the case of meal delivery services, the temperature of the meal is also very important during transport and delivery.
What does monitoring mean in food safety management?
In food safety management, monitoring and measuring systems are necessary to ensure CCPs are actually under control. The system’s results need to be documented, in order to prove food safety conditions. This is part of the entire registration system.
This means both temperature registration and the management of other CCPs and generic control measures. Possible CCPs include:
- Preventing cross-contamination
Possible generic control measures in food safety include but are not limited to:
- Personal hygiene
- Pest control
What is the best way to monitor the temperature of food?
A fast, continuous registration system sending out an alarm if critical limits are reached is the most ideal way to monitor food temperature. In addition, the use of digital thermometers is recommended, because these register actual temperatures.
9 examples of food safety monitoring techniques
There are a number of food safety monitoring techniques that can be employed in order to ensure the safety of food. These include regular checks of food storage facilities and preparation areas, as well as the monitoring of food handling procedures.
Here are 9 examples of techniques for food safety monitoring:
- Temperature monitoring (permanently and when otherwise necessary)
- Cleaning registration
- Control of allergens
- Preventing cross-contamination in product and storage
- Glass detection during production
- Clear agreements with suppliers regarding specifications and quality
- Monitoring shelf life
- Keeping track of sample and analytics data
Monitoring the temperature of food during transport
Suppliers of raw materials are responsible for monitoring temperature during transport from their production facilities to customers. At all times, products must be stored in accordance with temperatures that fit product and storage specifications.
Usually, this takes place by means of temperature data loggers in the trucks used for transportation. This data is shared with recipients on the packing slips.
This also goes for the delivery of hot / cold meals or meal components. These must be delivered at temperatures in accordance with current standards: in general, that would be <7 °C for cold products and >60°C for hot products.
How to set up an automated temperature control system for food safety
To set up an automated temperature control system, you should first make sure you have insight into the CCPs of temperatures. Meaning you should first conduct an HACCP study of all processes where temperature is a control point.
Then, in consultation with the location in question, you will determine what the best and most efficient and effective method is to control the temperature in all these processes. If possible, you should opt for permanent monitoring in storage areas.
This is to prevent stock having to be thrown away in the event of an unexpected failure of refrigerators or freezers. Throwing away products because they are no longer usable will set you back many thousands of euros in losses.
You will also need to set up permanent monitoring for other processes, if possible, although manual temperature measuring is still quite common. Of course, this is always done with digital thermometers, and in combination with a proper digital quality management system.