MadgeTech Blog — Food Safety

Simplify Grocery Store Temperature Monitoring with MadgeTech Data Loggers

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Grocery store refrigerators are essential for storing perishable food items such as meats, dairy products, and vegetables. However, if the temperature of the refrigerators is not monitored and controlled properly, it can result in the growth of harmful bacteria and spoilage of food products. This can lead to foodborne illness and significant economic losses for the grocery store. To prevent these risks, there are requirements for grocery store refrigerator temperature monitoring that must be followed.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that grocery stores maintain refrigerator temperatures at or below 40 °F (4 °C) to ensure the safety and quality of food products. This is because temperatures above 40 °F can promote the growth of harmful bacteria, which can cause foodborne illness.

To comply with these requirements, grocery stores must install temperature monitoring devices in their refrigerators. These devices can include digital thermometers or data loggers, which can measure and record the temperature of the refrigerators over time. The data collected by these devices can be used to verify that the refrigerators are maintaining the required temperature range.

In addition, grocery stores must establish standard operating procedures (SOPs) for refrigerator temperature monitoring. These SOPs must outline the frequency of temperature monitoring, the procedures for recording temperature data, and the corrective actions that must be taken if temperatures fall outside of the required range. For example, if a refrigerator is found to be operating above the required temperature range, the grocery store must take immediate action to correct the problem, such as repairing or replacing the refrigerator or removing and disposing of any affected food products.

Grocery stores are also required to maintain records of refrigerator temperature monitoring. These records must be kept for at least two years and must be available for inspection by regulatory authorities. The records must include the date and time of temperature monitoring, the temperature readings, and any corrective actions taken.

MadgeTech data loggers simplify these requirements by providing an all-in-one solution. By utilizing the RFTCTemp2000A, temperature data can be collected and sent in real-time to a central PC or the cloud for remote monitoring. Moreover, alerts can be set up to automatically send text messages or email notifications if a temperature approaches or exceeds a user-defined threshold. The benefits don’t end there, though. When combined with MadgeTech 4 Data Logger Software, generating compliance reports becomes effortless, and the built-in database allows for easy organization and long-term preservation of reports.

By following these requirements for refrigerator temperature monitoring, grocery stores can ensure the safety and quality of their food products, prevent foodborne illness, and comply with regulatory requirements. Temperature monitoring is a critical component of food safety management and must be taken seriously by all grocery stores.

To learn more about MadgeTech’s solution for grocery store monitoring solutions, please contact [email protected].

What are TCS Foods?

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What are TCS foods?

One of many abbreviations used in the food processing industry, TCS stands for time/temperature control for safety. In short, this refers to foods that require a specific time and temperature controls to remain safe. Understanding what TCS foods are and how to prevent them from becoming dangerous is key to keeping consumers safe.

Which foods are TCS?

Certain foods are more susceptible to bacterial growth based on their organic makeup. The levels of acidity and moisture as well as the overall composition of a food can determine if it creates an environment that promotes pathogen growth. Some of the most common TCS foods are:

  • Dairy & eggs
  • Meat & fish products
  • High-protein plants (including soybeans, chickpeas, and lentils)
  • Cut fruit & vegetables
  • Cooked rice & beans

These foods (along with others) can spoil very quickly in uncontrolled environments. Think about the difference between storing a steak in a 40° F refrigerator versus in a hot car in the middle of July—which one would you want to eat?

What makes these potentially dangerous?

The danger of TCS foods is introduced when the food passes through what is known as the temperature danger zone. This temperature range is from 40° F to 140° F and is considered the ideal environment for bacterial growth in TCS foods. To put it into perspective, a single bacteria can double every 20 minutes if a food is kept in the danger zone.

To learn more about specific ways food can become unsafe if left at the wrong temperature, click here.

How can these foods be kept safe?

Knowing that bacteria grows the fastest in the danger zone, you can see how vital it is that food be kept out of the danger zone—or, if it must pass through the danger zone, that it do so quickly.

  • Be sure to follow instructions for temperatures and times when cooking food.
  • When serving hot foods, they should be kept at temperatures above 135° F.
  • Food must be cooled quickly; and should go from 135° F to 70° F within the first two hours, and down to 41° F within four hours.
  • Food should be stored at appropriate temperatures. Cold food should be held at 41° F or below, while frozen food should be held at cold enough temperatures to remain frozen.
  • Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator, not sitting out at room temperature.

A vital part of keeping TCS foods safe is ensuring that your refrigerator or refrigerators are maintaining the proper temperature, so that cold and cooling foods are kept out of the danger zone as much as possible.

The most precise and efficient way to monitor the temperature of your refrigerators is a data logger, such as the MadgeTech RFTCTEMP2000A. This compact device fits conveniently inside a refrigerator and delivers superior accuracy in measuring temperatures. In addition to monitoring ambient temperature, the RFTCTemp2000A also accepts an external thermocouple that can be used with a thermal buffer to more accurately mimic the temperatures your foods are experiencing.  Even better, you can set up desired temperature ranges for the logger, and it will e-mail or text you if the temperature leaves the set range. This way, you can monitor your refrigerators without constantly having to open them to check a thermometer.

For more information on how MadgeTech temperature data loggers could help you keep your TCS foods at safe temperatures, please reach out to the MadgeTech sales team.