Food producers are starting to feel the effects of FSMA, with some deadlines looming just this fall. Temperature is such a vital element of food safety and even minor fluctuations can mean major consequences. A fluctuation of temperature in food from 4.4°C to 10°C to 12°C (40°F to 50°F to 54°F) not only stimulates rapid growth of psychrotrophic pathogenic and spoilage bacteria, but many mesophilic spoilage and pathogenic bacteria are also able to grow and their spores germinate in this range (FoodSafetyMagazine).
Monitoring these temperatures manually is a strictly reactive approach. When temperatures dip/raise outside of an acceptable range, it is only discovered after it has happened, not knowing what temperatures the area reached and for how long. This is no longer an acceptable method of temperature monitoring.
Now more than ever, the resources are available to constantly monitor your temperature-sensitive environments ensuring the safety and compliance of your operations. So when searching for a temperature monitoring solution, keep in mind the key features and functionality below and use it as a quick checklist. It’s time to invest in tech and always know the status of your food storage containers.
1. Get Connected
If you can check your email while waiting in line at the grocery store, you should be able to check the temperature your business critical environments there too. Whatever system you use or plan to use to constantly monitor temperature, needs to be accessible on mobile devices. Preferably, device agnostic so anyone with a smartphone can stay in the loop. Your organization needs to be invested in food safety and tying these temperature reports to the device that most people rely on daily is a good start.
2. Mobile Device Alerts
Alerts are key for this process to be as effective as possible. Your real-time temp system should allow for configurable alerts and notifications to be pushed out to various users. Determine your reporting intervals, whether it’s every 5 minutes or every 5 seconds, and whenever an environment falls outside of this acceptable range, emails and/or texts should fire off to your ‘first line of defense.’
3. Automatic Escalations
Escalations are important in case your ‘first line of defense’ fails to remediate the problem in a timely manner. This requires custom workflows in the background of your solution. For larger, more complex operations you may require more sophisticated workflows to run in the background of your solution. Read this in-depth post to learn if complex workflow automation may benefit your organization.
This step requires some diagramming. After deciding who this first line of defense is, how they will be notified and the time they have to resolve and report back – you need to make the same decisions about your second and even third strings of employees who need to be involved. This ties directly into our first step of getting connected.
4. Alternative WiFi Sources
Is your food on the move? Maybe you’re storing food in remote places, or many locations. In order to achieve steps 1-3 when monitoring temperatures, you’re going to need a WiFi connection. Today, WiFi is easier and easier to come by, even in the most remote areas. If a signal is not an option, there are other ways to connect to the internet that you may not have thought of.
Some of the newer models of cars are come standard with their own WiFi hotspots, automakers like Chevy, Chrysler and Buick are offering this feature in their more affordable cars – it’s not just for luxury vehicles anymore. This is ideal for mom and pop shops selling food at farmers markets and transporting it in coolers. They still require reporting of temperatures in-transit and with a connected car, your real-time food safety solution will be logging and monitoring this for you.
You can purchase mobile hotspots from anywhere from $50 – $300 and always stay connected to your temperature devices. Investing in a nicer Hotspot might mean a more reliable connection. PC Mag rounded up The Best Mobile Hotspots of 2016 to help you choose the right device for you.
Almost any smartphone can act as a personal hotspot. If you are on the go and in a pinch, you can ‘tether’ devices and enable a hotspot from your phone to provide internet access to your temperature devices. PC Mag outlines How to Turn Your Phone Into a Wi-Fi Hotspot.
5. Share Your Data
All of this information being collected – temperatures, time, fluctuations etc. – needs to be accessible and exportable. Make sure your temperature monitoring solution has an open API and can integrate into other systems. You want to be able to perform quality analyses on this data and learn more about your temperature environments.
6. Export Functionality
As previously mentioned, these temperature logs for your business-critical environments needs the functionality to export. You should be able to see a log of temperatures with time stamps, export it and email it within the solution. This is your big time savings vs. collecting this information by hand. The data is digitized and easily shared to regulatory bodies and internal staff.
The Solution to your Temperatures Woes
We’ve been working with local farmers and food producers in our county to make this tech more available. After a lot of research and development, we are launching our beta temperature monitoring system that gleaned the above findings. We listened to the frustrations of these producers and provided a solution that we believe is an affordable and valuable tool to heighten food safety for organizations of all size.
This week we launched CompWALK 4 with our new IoT (Internet of Things) real-time temperature monitoring device tied into the already robust mobile compliance solution. Here’s a sneak peak of the temperature log and export functionality.
For more information, email our product specialist Chad Baker or give him a call at (703) 863-4883.