A Matter of Degrees

Today's temperature monitoring technologies help food companies deliver safe, high-quality products.


Eisenberg notes the attraction to PakSense is its small size and ease of operation. “We can operate them anywhere throughout our cold chain. My field managers look for food safety and quality issues. I can give each of them a box of these monitors to apply right in the field, where our cold chain begins.”

River Ranch uses PakSense labels in a number of site-specific applications. For instance, it began a program with two of its major retail customers who wanted to know if the temperature management on their retail shelves was adequate to maintain quality.

“We placed these monitors on their shelves to discover if temperature fluctuations caused some of the condensation and other quality issues inside the packages,” explains Eisenberg. The company also uses PakSense labels to monitor temperature fluctuations in particular environments within its plant and loading docks. “It is a very inexpensive way to get actionable data and to understand the environment better.”

PakSense labels also allow the company to trace back to a specific farm to determine where a quality issue originated.

Eisenberg adds he uses the wireless version of PakSense in cooler evaporators, which sit about 25 feet off the floor. “We stick one of these monitors in there so we can read the temperature from the ground since it’s in a hard-to-reach area.”

ANALYZING TRENDS AT LEGAL SEA FOODS

Boston-based Legal Sea Foods Inc. uses several of Sensitech’s products offering hands-free data management. “Monitoring temperatures and times are critical throughout receiving, storing and processing seafood,” says John Ciarametaro, assistant director of quality assurance, Quality Control Center, for Legal Sea Foods, supplier to 31 of its restaurants along the eastern seaboard.

The cold chain for Legal Sea Foods begins with the use of Temp Tale temperature monitoring devices placed with shipments as they leave the company’s quality control center. “This is of particular concern with our out-of-state deliveries where our products are on trucks for long periods,” reports Ciarametaro.

QuickCheck is a time-temperature monitor used in Legal Sea Food retail stores as a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) informational tool, whose data is downloaded into a QuickCheck Manager reader that produces HACCP reports.

“QuickCheck thermometers are handhelds with a probe that our restaurant managers are required to use to take the temperature of products at certain critical control points—from receiving through cooking,” explains Ciarametaro.

Sensitech’s ColdStream infrastructure is installed in Legal Sea Food’s main receiving facility, where it monitors temperatures of receiving, storing, processing, and packaging rooms to assure products are within spec before they are shipped to the company’s restaurants.

“ColdStream technology has helped us monitor and maintain the HACCP program,” says Ciarametaro. “It allows us to easily see trends so we can figure out why a room might be going out of range at a particular time. We can then examine what was happening in the building at the time, allowing us to use the information to correct the problem and keep it from reoccurring. Sensitech’s technology helps us protect our brand much more effectively.”

Closed-Loop is installed in Legal Sea Foods’ trucks, providing a level of granularity required to analyze time-temperature trends over an aggregate of multiple trips. “It’s another tool to help us avoid problems by diagnosing trends and correcting any issues as they happen,” notes Ciarametaro.

For instance, Closed-Loop can inform companies if they have an equipment problem or if they need to re-train their staff because of fluctuating temperatures. “It might be an indication that drivers are leaving the doors open on a regular basis, or it could be a problem with the reefer cycling,” says Sensitech’s Darragh.

The technology is an RF, mesh-networked environment utilizing a time-temperature recorder mounted in the interior of the vehicle, Darragh explains. The RF reader infrastructure is installed at Legal Sea Foods’ main Boston facility, where trucks deliver fresh seafood from the docks. “Once the truck enters the facility, readers automatically download time-temperature data into our hosted ColdStream database. Reports are generated early every morning and we email automatic reports to Ciarametaro.”

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