Food processing is the transformation of raw ingredients into a consumable product that can be preserved over a period of time. Whether processing canned soups, packaged desserts or even hot dogs, the forefront of any food processing facility is ensuring food safety and quality.
Data is critical for providing insight into each step of the production process, verifying that the food safety plan in place is functioning according to HACCP requirements. But what good is data if you don’t have a system that will sound the alarms if a deviation occurs? That’s why data loggers are valuable to have employed at every temperature-related critical control point.
Heating food to high temperatures with a high moisture content effectively eliminates pathogens. However, cooking temperature and time is dependent on the number of pathogens being targeted, as well as the initial temperature and size of the food.
Data loggers designed to withstand high temperatures are used to verify that critical limits have been met during cooking processes. To prevent product loss, wireless data loggers provide continuous monitoring and real-time alerts when temperature fluctuations occur, allowing for corrective actions to be taken immediately.
Cooling and Chilling
Once cooked, food is cooled to the required storage temperature. Cooling or chilling reduces the rate of chemical and biological changes in food, preserving the appearance and nutritional value while extending the shelf life. However, if food is not properly cooled and sits in the temperature danger zone for too long it can cause foodborne illnesses.
Data loggers should be used throughout the entire process to ensure the food is properly cooled following 2 to 4-hour rule. It’s crucial to know the temperature of the food and how long its been exposed to those temperatures. When food is left in the temperature danger zone, harmful bacteria can grow and multiply quickly. Food left out should be thrown out after 2 hours.
Storage and Distribution
Once food is refrigerated or frozen, it’s imperative that it remains in the appropriate temperature throughout the cold chain. Certain foods like meat and poultry are especially sensitive to temperature fluctuations which can cause bacteria to become active and multiply to levels that can cause foodborne illnesses.
Continuous monitoring is recommended for refrigerator or freezer units to ensure they are operating as intended, all the time. Wireless data loggers provide real-time readings inside of the units and alert users when specified temperature thresholds are breached. To help prevent product loss during distribution, there are data loggers designed to fit inside shipments with customizable high/low alarms.