Importance of temperature control

According to the Food Advisory Consumer Service , proper temperature monitoring is key to proper cold chain management.

Under “cold chain” is understood the whole sequence of a temperature-controlled supply chain, comprising preparation, packaging, storage, distribution, retail holding, display, purchase and consumption by the end-user.  

This applies to chilled or frozen food from raw material to final consumption.

 There should be no weak link in the chain and the motto at every link should be “Don’t re-cool – KEEP cool”.

Once a prescribed low temperature has been reached, this should be strictly maintained as far as possible, with minimum temperature fluctuations until used.

The specific temperatures needed are dictated by the product type in the case of both chilled and frozen products, and dictated by the Quality/Risk department of Famous Brands in this case specifically.

In the case of Famous Brands leading Brands: accurate temperature has to be measured and recorded from the time of receiving food from delivery trucks, to accurate temperature measurement at the time of storage of food, both of the storage facilities and of the food product itself, to accurate temperature measurement and records during the defrost cycle, and finally the accurate temperature measurement and recording of temperatures during the cooking process before finally reaching the consumer.

According to South African Law:

The consumer can sue a restaurant for food poisoning if the law and evidence support their personal injury or wrongful death claim. If the investigation into their illness finds the specific food item that made them sick, they may also have claims against a grower, food processor and distributor.

If accurate temperature records are not maintained, the restaurant has no way of proving their innocence and can be held liable.

The Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act 54 of 1972, which resides with the National Department of Health, states that any person shall be guilty of an offence if he sells, manufactures or imports for sale, any foodstuff which is contaminated, impure or decayed, or is, in terms of any regulation deemed to be harmful or injurious to human health. Under the terms of the Act, a number of applicable regulations have been promulgated that address specific issues to ensure that food is safe for human consumption. Under the common law, a supplier can be held civilly liable in court for damages arising from food poisoning. 

Purpose of an accurate, reliable thermometer in maintaining the cold chain.

The main purpose of chilling or freezing food is to prolong shelf life and to maintain the fresh appearance of the food. But more importantly, at higher temperatures there is a rapid growth of bacteria, which can result in food poisoning if the particular food is eaten. Chilling or freezing will not kill bacteria, but will retard their growth. Everyone is aware of the unpleasant symptoms of food poisoning, but it is important to remember that it can be fatal, especially in the case of “risk groups”.

Why use a Thermapen probe thermometer:

Any thermometer is only as good as the temperatures it takes, so thermometer accuracy is of the utmost importance in temperature control. The Thermapen Classic thermometer incorporates a large digital display with a precise read-out of temperature over the range of -49.9 to 299.9 °C with a 0.1 °C resolution and an accuracy of ±0.4 °C. 

The casing is washable and includes ‘Biomaster’ additive that reduces bacterial growth and the ergonomic rubber seal minimizes the risk of the ingress of water, dust or food. As well as being splash proof, it is still ‘probably’ the fastest reading contact thermometer on the market today. The true temperature of a product can be tested in three seconds.

In summary:

The Thermapen® Classic – the world’s favourite kitchen thermometer now has a new look, improved design and additional features.

    • over 50% faster than traditional probes
    • reaches temperature in just 3 seconds
    • simple & lightweight to use
    • FREE traceable calibration certificate

Why Calibrate:

The word “calibrate” is often thought to mean making some kind of adjustment to a thermometer for accuracy. While adjustments are sometimes needed, “calibrating” a thermometer simply means testing its accuracy against a verifiable standard. If the thermometer is within the accuracy specification listed by the manufacturer or quality control agency, no adjustment should be made. If a thermometer is dropped, bumped hard or misused in a manner that affects the probe, this may affect the accuracy of the thermometer, which is why it is important to have frequent calibrations.

When it comes to recommended frequency, there is a very wide range. Check the stated recommendation for your type and model of thermometer or check with the appropriate health department or quality control agency with authority over your operation. Standard recommended frequency is once a year.