Author: Holly Doherty

5 Essential Temperature Solutions for Your HACCP Plan

5 Essential Temperature Solutions for Your HACCP Plan

All food businesses are required to assess the hazards in their operation to identify steps that are critical to food safety, i.e. cooking food to kill bacteria. Controlling the temperature of food is extremely important in ensuring that it is safe to eat, and you 

ETI Supports Local Food Bank Over Festive Period

ETI Supports Local Food Bank Over Festive Period

It’s a difficult time for everyone at the moment, but for some putting a meal on the table is harder than ever before. This is why we’ve chosen to support Worthing Food Foundation in helping to feed our local community over the festive period. Every 

HACCP Checks: Save Over £600 a Year with This Easy Step

HACCP Checks: Save Over £600 a Year with This Easy Step

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 saved, and we believe that this is a huge long-term investment for your business.

Our previous blog post in this data logger series looked at our five main types of logger and what applications they’re most suited for, to help you choose the best option. This post will examine how loggers save time and money to create a less stressful HACCP plan and more efficient business.

How data loggers save time

Without loggers, members of staff have to interrupt their busy days multiple times by locating log books and a working pen, then visiting various control points to read and note the temperatures. This costs a lot of time, and there’s much room for error in this system, error that can result in large financial losses if corrective actions are not carried out quickly enough.

We monitored the time it takes one person to take five temperature checks and write them down. The result was four minutes. Based on a business that completes these checks three times daily, and is open 365 days a year, that’s 73 hours of annual labour. Why not let a device, with a one off cost, monitor your temperature checks and allow staff to spend their time on better tasks?

As well as time lost on completing the checks, there is the time spent training staff on how to carry them out. With loggers, the temperatures and intervals are simple to set and will be automatically carried out once the device is in place. Depending on the model, they can collect thousands of readings before being connected to a computer via USB where the data can be viewed and accessed easily and clearly.

How data loggers save costs

Based on an employee who is earning the UK minimum wage for over 25s of £8.72, 73 hours a year spent taking temperatures will cost £636.56. Our loggers offer an entirely paperless, automated HACCP system from just £27 ex VAT, with free software and no ongoing subscription costs.

When out-of-range temperatures are not immediately identified, and corrective actions are taken too slowly, it can result in huge amounts of food waste and financial loss. WiFi loggers provide incredible protection against this by sending email alerts for out-of-range temperatures, meaning that you can be notified anywhere, anytime, as soon as the logger identifies an issue. Data can also be viewed in real time using the free TD Link app. This means complete confidence that kitchen equipment is performing correctly at all times from just £90 ex VAT.

Saving money isn’t the only benefit to going paperless, eliminating the need for multiple members of staff to move between various control points while handling paper, pens and thermometers will reduce points of contact. This is hugely beneficial while trying to increase safety at work under COVID-19.

Conclusion

Data loggers enable you to simplify your HACCP plan, reduce your staff workload and save costs on wages and outages, while also minimising human contact. From completing daily checks to preparing for EHO visits, your data will be more organised and accessible — and with 24/7 temperature monitoring and a reliable digital record of time-stamped temperature data, you can always be confident that your food is safe for consumption.

If you’re not sure what type of logger is most suitable for your business, please read our previous blog post ‘How to Select the Right Temperature Data Logger’ or contact our sales team at sales@etiltd.co.uk.

 

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How to Select the Right Temperature Data Logger

Helping you achieve temperature monitoring solutions for your HACCP Plan

 

How to Select the Right Temperature Data Logger

How to Select the Right Temperature Data Logger

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 

5 Common Food Safety Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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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 

Legionnaires’ Risks and Reopening Closed Businesses

Legionnaires’ Risks and Reopening Closed Businesses

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 responsibility to identify and manage any risk of legionnaires’. Read on to learn more about the bacteria and to find out what you should do if you are reopening your business after a period of closure.

Legal responsibilities and assessing the risks

If you are the employer or person in control of premises, you must organise a risk assessment from exposure to legionella. The revised Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) Legionnaires’ disease: Control of Legionella Bacteria in water systems (L8) issued by the Government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) significantly extends the scope of its guidance on control of legionella bacteria in water. The code applies to all hot and cold water systems in the workplace regardless of their capacity, i.e. the lower limit of 300 litres previously used to exclude domestic systems, no longer applies. Whilst domestic systems may represent a risk, the code only applies to a risk arising from a work activity. This means that all employers, who manage premises with hot/cold water systems and/or wet cooling systems, have a legal responsibility to identify any risk of contamination and to prevent or control it. These records have to be kept for a minimum of five years.

What is legionnaires’ disease?

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia. The cause of the disease is a bacterium called legionella pneumophila.

How is it caught?

Legionnaires’ disease is caught by inhaling small droplets of water suspended in the air which contain the legionella bacterium, e.g. spray from showers and taps.

What are the sources of legionella bacterium?

The legionella bacterium is found mainly in stagnant water, e.g. ponds and rivers or buildings containing cooling tower, evaporation condensers, air conditioning and industrial cooling systems, humidifiers, spa baths and hot and cold water systems.

What areas are the most vulnerable?

A wide range of workplaces, but particularly residential accommodation managed privately or by organisations, e.g. local authorities, universities, hospitals, nursing and care homes, housing associations, charities, hostels, private landlords, managing agents, hoteliers and holiday accommodation providers, including guest houses.

Who is most at risk?

People most at risk are people over 45, smokers and heavy drinkers, diabetics and people who are already ill, particularly with chronic diseases or whose immune system is impaired.

How can using a thermometer help control legionella in water?

Incorrect water temperature is a key risk factor for legionella growth. The legionella bacteria multiply in water at temperatures between 20 to 45 °C. A typical method of control is to store hot water above 60 °C and distribute it at above 50 °C (care must be taken to prevent scalding). Cold water should be kept below 20 °C.

What action should be taken when reopening a business that has been closed for some time? 

The HSE guide to legionnaires’ disease states that:

‘Where a building, part of a building or a water system is taken out of use (sometimes referred to as mothballing), it should be managed so that microbial growth, including legionella in the water, is appropriately controlled.

All mothballing procedures are a compromise between adequate control of microbial growth, the use of water for flushing (while avoiding waste) and degradation of the system by any disinfectant added. Where disinfectants are used, these should leave the system fit for its intended purpose.

The systems should be recommissioned as though they were new (ie thoroughly flushed, cleaned and disinfected) before returned to use.’

Learn more about what action you should take when reopening your business here.

 

 

Validating the Readings on an Infrared Thermometer Using an Ice Bath

Validating the Readings on an Infrared Thermometer Using an Ice Bath

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 

Interview: Baking Pies with Piglet’s Pantry

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How to Validate the Readings on Your Infrared Thermometer

How to Validate the Readings on Your Infrared Thermometer

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 store an IR thermometer. If you haven’t already, we recommend also reading these posts in order to fully understand how infrared works before attempting calibration.

 

Calibration vs validation

The process of calibrating a thermometer can only be completed in a controlled laboratory environment. The process of validation, where an instrument is comparison checked for accuracy, is what is described here. If the reading of an instrument is found to be inaccurate when validated using a calibrated thermometer it must then be sent to a laboratory to be repaired or recalibrated.

 

Why validating a temperature on an IR instrument is different to calibrating a penetration probe

Infrared thermometers only measure surface temperatures and should therefore only be used as a quick guide. This is because the accuracy of the measurement is affected by many factors and variables such as the emissivity of the surface, type of material, transparency, colour and reflectivity (read our full guide to getting accurate IR readings here). An infrared thermometer must be validated against a laboratory calibrated ‘master’ thermometer on a known temperature source. The best way to control the emissivity and temperature of a surface, ensuring that you get the true reading of an infrared thermometer, is by using a solid black body. This minimises most external factors and prevents the temperature from changing too quickly.

 

Emissivity

As seen in our previous blog post on the accuracies and limitations of infrared, emissivity plays a huge role when calibrating IR thermometers.

Depending on what you’re pointing your infrared thermometer at you’re going to get a variation in emitted infrared energy. Emissivity is a measure of a material’s ability to emit infrared energy. It is measured on a scale from just about 0.00 to 1.00. Generally, the closer a material’s emissivity rating is to 1.00, the more that material tends to absorb reflected or ambient infrared energy and emit only its own infrared radiation. Click here to learn more about emissivity.

Comparator cups comparison

What equipment is required to validate the accuracy of an IR instrument

Here at ETI we have specifically designated laboratories for our calibration of infrared thermometers. We have put a lot of time and resources into ensuring that the temperature and humidity is exactly right for each process to begin. We also have controlled hot and cold black body sources in order to achieve the accuracies stated within the product’s specification. We are able to provide a traceable certificate of calibration on all ETI manufactured infrared thermometers.

In order to check the accuracy of an IR thermometer out in the field, a Thermometer Comparator and high-accuracy, calibrated ‘master’ thermometer such as a Reference Thermometer are required. The thermometer comparator consists of an aluminium cup with a solid matte black base. The base incorporates two holes for taking the internal temperature of the base using a ‘master’ thermometer. An infrared thermometer can then be held above the entrance of the cup to take the temperature of the surface of the base.

 

How to validate a temperature on an IR instrument

Ensure the comparator and infrared thermometer are clean and free of any debris or substances that could affect the reading (read our full guide to cleaning and storing your IR device here).

Place the thermometer comparator on a flat surface.

Insert the Reference Thermometer probe into one of the base test holes and allow it to stabilise. This could take any amount of time, depending on the response time of the inserted probe.

If the IR device has adjustable emissivity, ensure it is set to 0.95, the correct setting for the matte black surface of the Thermometer Comparator.

Point the thermometer straight down into the bottom of the comparator and take a measurement. The instrument should read within 1 °C of the Reference Thermometer at 22°C ambient room temperature, depending on the accuracy of the thermometer.

 

What temperature can an IR instrument be validated at

The accuracy of an infrared thermometer can be checked using a comparator at any stable temperature. However, to reduce the possibility of a difference in temperature between the inside surface and the base test hole, it is more accurate at 22°C, ambient room temperature.

 

Thermal stability

Using an IR thermometer at hot or cold temperatures will increase the possibility of thermal instability.

For every 1°C the environment is above or below 22°C (ambient temperature), an adjustment factor should be added to the instrument’s accuracy to allow for the thermal instability. Typically this is 0.05°C for RayTemp thermometers. Other infrared thermometers may have a different value. Here is a table showing the values that need to be considered when using a RayTemp 2 thermometer in cold or hot environments.

*accuracies and thermal stability for other instruments can vary.

 

Dos and don’ts

Do calibrate at an ambient temperature of approximately 22°C if possible.

Don’t change the temperature surrounding the comparator before validation or the surface temperature may differ from the internal temperature.

Do be aware of the external factors that influence taking a correct IR reading from the comparator, such as moisture, frost and debris.

Don’t position the infrared thermometer too far away, or at an angle, when taking the temperature of the comparator as it may provide an inaccurate reading.

Do take the measurements as quickly as possible, to prevent the surface temperature from changing.

Don’t forget that the thermometers require time to acclimatise to a different environment.

 

 

Learn more about infrared thermometers:

Infrared Thermometers: Accurate Readings & Limitations

Infrared Thermometers: Cleaning & Storing

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Sous Vide Cooking

A Beginner’s Guide to Sous Vide Cooking

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