Data loggers automate the temperature-taking process. They allow temperatures to be taken at programmed intervals, and will digitally back up the results. Eliminating the need for an employee to physically take and write down the temperature means time can be freed and money can be …
At ETI, we work to find unique temperature solutions that fit your HACCP and safety plans, so that your procedures can be as efficient and reliable as possible. With data loggers, the units will capture accurate temperature data which can be archived for traceability and …
Following HACCP food safety regulations is essential in ensuring that the food you serve to your customers is both safe and consistently high quality, as well as fundamental in legally protecting your business with accurate records. As we work with a number of businesses in the food service industry, we see the same mistakes cropping up time and again. Here are some common food safety errors we’ve seen and how to avoid them.
Testing a thermometer’s accuracy with an improperly made ice bath
When ice is floating in a container of water, the temperature difference between the water at the top and bottom of the container can be as much as 12°C. In a properly made ice bath, the ice should be resting on the bottom of the container and the water level at the top should be slightly below the ice level. When performing your test you should stir the mixture and let it sit for a minute before stirring the thermometer, and if the test has been carried out correctly, and your infrared thermometer is properly calibrated, it should read within your unit’s stated accuracy specification at 0.0°C.
Read our step-by-step guide to carrying out an ice bath test here.
Using an infrared thermometer to test internal temperatures
Infrared thermometers only measure the surface temperature of an object. Therefore you cannot use an infrared thermometer to check that any food is a safe temperature throughout. This is because the centre of the food will cook and cool at a different rate to the surface.
Learn more about the limitations of infrared thermometers here.
Failing to stir foods before measuring their temperature
Differences in temperature within the same medium are called “gradients.” Gradients exist in ovens, fridges and solid foods like vegetables and chicken. The same is true with liquids and semi-liquids like salsa and soup. Whether they are cooking or chilling, different parts of foods heat up and cool down at different rates. If you insert a probe thermometer into a liquid that has been sitting all morning, before stirring, you may be measuring the temperature of a cold spot or a hot spot and you’ll never know which.
For an accurate reading of a liquid or semi-liquid, stir the mixture thoroughly before measuring its temperature as this will even out the gradients and bring it to a more even temperature. It’s also beneficial to stir your thermometer probe in the food while you take its temperature.
Failing to measure the correct part of a food
Because of temperature gradients, you need to measure the centre or thickest part of a solid food with your thermometer. This can be a challenge with dial thermometers (whose sensor is up to two inches long) or slow digital thermometers (that take more than 5 seconds to reach an accurate reading). But with a fast and accurate digital thermometer, you can locate the centre by pushing the probe through the food until you find the lowest number when cooking, or the highest number when cooling.
Another common mistake is resting a probe tip on the bottom of a pan or container of food rather than suspending it in the middle of a liquid. Even if the liquid has been properly stirred, the temperature of the pan can affect the reading of a probe resting on its surface.
Learn more about taking accurate readings here.
Using paper HACCP logs when so many digital solutions are available
Keeping paper HACCP logs are time-consuming to fill out, difficult to navigate, and both inconvenient and unreliable to store. We stock a number of data loggers, such as the Saf-T-Log, that erase the need for paper log books while providing a clear, accurate and reliable data archive.
With our ThermaData WiFi Loggers, for example, temperatures will automatically be taken at programmed intervals and transmitted to your device worldwide, so that corrective actions can be carried out immediately wherever you are.
Shop our data loggers here.
Stainless Steel ThermaData Data Loggers
Saf-T-Log HACCP paperless temperature recording
Leaving the water systems in buildings unused for some time could be fatal if not properly treated upon return. It increases the risk of legionella bacterium, which can be life threatening. If you are managing a premises with a water system, you have a legal …
In the last blog post within our infrared thermometer series, we looked at how to correctly validate the accuracy of your instrument using a Thermometer Comparator. The comparator method allows devices to be validated at ambient room temperature, however we would not recommend conducting it …
Piglet’s Pantry began as a small seaside bakery with a mission to create amazing British pies, using the best quality British ingredients. Nine years, three buildings and 32 British Pie Awards later they are supplying 50,000 baked goods per week to sports stadiums, entertainment venues and leading luxury brands. A family-run business, they’ve stayed true to their ethos and they pride themselves on sourcing local, sustainable ingredients to produce incredible tasting pies on a robust and efficient production line. One of the key elements of this is a temperature system that quality controls their products and increases security while freeing up time that can be better spent growing their business.
We visited Piglet’s Pantry in Sussex to see how they produce their handmade, award winning pies. We also spoke to Jo Hunter, who founded the business in 2011, about how our paperless temperature monitoring system has helped them as their business has exploded over the last decade.
How has Piglet’s Pantry grown since it was first established?
Piglet’s has grown exponentially. In 2011 Piglet’s were offered the opportunity to design the first Brighton & Hove Albion Pies. We were the first people to set foot in the kitchens and baked all our original 2,500 pies on site completely by hand. At the first friendly game against Tottenham we sold out 10 minutes after opening. We were asked to double our orders, but with 5,000 we still didn’t make half time. Eight years later and we make over 8,500 pies each match day for Brighton and we also supply many other Premier League and Championship clubs around the UK. We have moved premises three times, going from a cottage industry to a mid-size, full-scale production unit producing 50,000 units per week of a very diverse range of baked goods.
How have your requirements for temperature equipment changed as the business has developed?
When we first started out we only had probes. We had to record everything manually, which was very time consuming. We implemented a brand new ETI system when we moved into our new building. This was a game changer; we now have all of our temperature recordings backed up every few hours from our fridges and freezers with alerts if the temperatures go above our critical limits. The new ETI thermometers at each station can be programmed for all of the active products we are working on, allowing us to set not only critical limits but also quality control limits and information too. We have passed all our internal and external audits and this meets all of the current FSA requirements. It gives us true peace of mind and keeps us all safe.
At which points in the process do you take temperature measurements?
We measure the CCPs at all stages of our business, from product entry to product delivery. The main points are delivery goods in, walk in fridges, walk in freezers, ovens, blast chillers and delivery vans. At events there are also ovens and hot holding.
How does having a robust temperature monitoring system help you to save waste?
I could literally write a book on this subject. The main highlights:
Staff cost savings – having to write out lots of paperwork, paper getting lost and generally the loss of time in this area is huge. I would estimate we have saved two people’s salaries a month on this area alone.
Product waste – the robust methods of how we use ETI’s products and the technology in place means that alerts can be dealt with swiftly and smoothly with little downtime. The completion time from alert to engineer is between 20 minutes and two hours. This lack of downtime means product is always safe and doesn’t need to be destroyed.
Quality Control – the speed of taking temperature recordings and the parameters that we can set on the Saf-T-Logs helps us to control our product and reduce unnecessary waste at production.
How does your temperature monitoring system help your relationship with EHOs and what do they think of the system?
We are constantly being reviewed by external consultants, Primary Authority, EHO, SALSA Auditors, NSF and Safe Guarding. Every person who has been into our facility has been extremely impressed with the ETI complete set-up. They feel it gives robust, exceptional control over the production of our work and we are pleased to say we regularly achieve Grade A with minimal minor action points.
What is the benefit of using Thermapens to temperature check your products when catering at events?
At many large venues around the UK the basic probes in use are extremely slow. Thermapens are a game changer, the accuracy and speed of which they get to temperature is incredible. This saves time, energy and loss of heat from the ovens, ultimately ensuring product quality (including risk of acrylamide) and therefore giving maximum sales potential.
How have data loggers helped to save time when taking temperature checks?
No more paper – this is a critical and amazing time-saver. We never have to store or look for paper because it’s backed up and straightforward. Because they are so simple and easy to use we can also spend more time training staff on how to take accurate temperatures and more time on making the products.
How has the Saf-T-Log helped you to develop a more efficient HACCP plan?
The Saf-T-Log is fundamental to our CCPs – wherever there is a CCP we have a Saf-T-Log station, which makes them easy to identify around the building. The Saf-T-Logs truly reflect what we are trying to achieve in our HACCP plan rather than trying to make a product work and fit in. Traceability is also easy to identify.
How has ETI helped Piglet’s Pantry to find the right products for the business?
The dedicated technical team at ETI assisted us with finding the right products, which is reviewed and monitored every year. The calibration and replacement service is fast and very easy to use. The support is fantastic; when we have questions from audits they are always answered swiftly and easily.
What’s the future for Piglet’s Pantry?
Utopia for Piglet’s would be a method on delivery that can capture the code and use by dates of all our products as well as the temperature/quality control measures we can currently do with the ETI system. If we had this we would have a complete ETI solution and a future proof system that works for us across the board.
The third instalment in our infrared thermometer series is about how to correctly validate the accuracy of an IR device in the field. Our first post looked at emissivity and how to get an accurate reading, while the second focused on how to clean and …
What is sous vide cooking? Sous vide is a method of cooking that involves using precise, controlled temperatures to produce food that is perfectly and evenly cooked all the way through. French for ‘under vacuum’, the process of sous vide involves vacuum-sealing food inside a …
Insight from Unilever highlights that the UK throws away more than 4 million tonnes of perfectly edible food during December (30% of our total annual volume). This includes 263,000 turkeys, 7.5 million mince pies and more than 170 tonnes of sprouts. With food production being one of the leading contributors to climate change, it’s essential that we are more conscious of avoidable waste this Christmas.
Keep your fridge in check
Sustainability experts WRAP report that the average fridge in UK homes runs at 7°C, despite the Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommending they remain between 0 and 5°C. This leads to food going off more quickly, costing UK families an average of £70 a month.
Using a fridge thermometer is essential because the fridge dial doesn’t always accurately reflect the temperature. We have a range of fridge freezer thermometers with prices starting at £1.80. This one is particularly great as it has a programmable high/low audible alarm to alert you if the temperature falls out of range.
*Top tip: don’t overfill your fridge or the air won’t be able to circulate and maintain a constant temperature.
A study of consumer refrigerated food practices by WRAP showed that most people don’t check the contents of their fridge before a major food shop. Careful planning and shopping sensibly is the best way to ensure you’re not burdened with an excessive amount of leftovers that won’t fit in your freezer. Plan ahead, buy only what you need and check the dates to ensure you can eat things before they expire.
Cook to temperature
Using a kitchen thermometer to cook your meats to perfection will lessen the likelihood of discarded meat. Not only will it ease any self-doubt to know that the food you’re feeding to a large table of people is safely cooked to the correct temperature, it will also prevent any over-cooking and equally grumbly guests. Take three seconds to check your temperatures with our Thermapen Professional, or if you’d prefer to be alerted when your food is cooked why not try our DOT digital oven thermometer. Don’t forget to check your temperatures when you reheat your leftovers too – they need to reach 75°C.
Store at safe temperatures
Don’t leave your food to sit at room temperature for too long. The FDA recommends that all perishables left out for more than two hours be discarded. Bacteria grow most rapidly between 5 and 63°C, doubling in amount every 20 minutes, so keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
Decrease the damage by composting
It’s hard to avoid food waste at Christmas completely. When food is sent to landfill, air cannot get to the waste and this produces the harmful greenhouse gas methane. Why not try composting to put your waste to better use? Composting usually takes six to 12 months, but hot composting can take around four weeks. Learn more with our guide to hot composting.
Read more about reducing waste.
Shop food thermometers.
Monitoring the temperature of your home is important financially and environmentally. Simply keeping track of accurate readings and being more mindful with your heat usage can save you money, maintain good health and reduce your carbon dioxide emissions. Last year we looked at what temperature …