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Test and measure your way to risk reduction

03 March 2018

Ashton Bayliss looks at safety equipment and measurement technology which can help food processors ensure safety and protect their reputations. 

The frequency of UK food alerts has been steadily increasing in recent years. As the food standards agency reports, there were 56 food alerts issued in both 2013 and in 2014. The frequency in 2015 and 2016 was more than double that (121 and 148 food alerts respectively).

With this increase, the need for effective quality processes is emphasised. Both to reduce the risk of such an event occurring, and to provide proof of the highest level of due diligence, should an irreversible issue of this nature occur. Manufacturers therefore, need to be confident that both their processes and safety equipment are bulletproof. Keeping such cases to a minimum is of course the end goal, but quality managers need the correct tools to ensure safety and the company’s HACCP plan is upheld.

Here we go through some of the most important safety equipment and measurement technology, for establishments to protect the safety and reputation of their operation:

Automated temperature monitoring

One overnight system failure can cost a company hundreds of thousands of pounds in wasted goods, an this is something that ironically, can be very easily avoided with an automated temperature monitoring system.

Testo’s Saveris 2 for example, is a cloud-based system that logs and stores all measurement data in one central place. Facility managers can place a wi-fi data logger in the warehouse or storage room to monitor fluctuations in temperature and have alerts sent to their email or phone. The user can then access the readings via their computer tablet or smartphone via the App.

Another advantage of an automated system, is it removes the need to collect data manually, meaning staff can use this additional time for other important tasks. Additionally, having data collated automatically, means there is no longer a potential for gaps, or readings to go missing. Handy in the case of audits.

Data loggers

As well as monitoring systems, Testo manufacture data loggers suitable for a range of applications in the food processing sector. These range from low-cost loggers for measuring temperature in a cold storage room for instance, right through to the temperature of production items or the surface temperature of machines or motors themselves and have the capability to measure even the most extreme temperature ranges, for high-end production processes. All Testo data loggers are certified for HACCP.

Thermometers

Thermometers are required in a number of applications during food manufacturing, for simple temperature spot checks. In this sector more than most, robustness is a hugely important factor for equipment. The Testo 108 thermometer for example, is waterproof, sturdy, and has an IP rating of IP67, making it ideal for manufacturing plants. It also has the option for colour-coded cases, meaning you can allocate different probes to specific food groups, avoiding contamination. All Testo thermometers are certified for HACCP.

Infrared thermometers

Infrared measurement can be a very useful feature in the food industry, particularly in the processing and retail sectors. It can be used as a quick indicator for surface temperature of the product, when penetration isn’t appropriate (if this will cause irreversible damage for example). Testo produce a range of infrared thermometers, ideal for spot checks during manufacturing processes.

pH Meters

Testing pH levels is a common method of deducing if edible materials are fit for the public. pH levels impact the appearance, taste and quality of food products. For example, during yoghurt production, improper pH levels can cause discolouration or insufficient tartness. In contrast, incorrect pH values in pork impact's the meat's water holding capacity, negatively affecting the product's saleability. Testo’s range of pH meters are ideal for measuring the pH value of semi-solid media, viscous and protein-containing foodstuffs (eg. processed cheese, fruit).

Cooking Oil Tester

Cooking oil testing is being used more and more within the restaurant and hospitality sector, but can also be used to the advantage of food manufacturing facilities for products where frying is required (crisps or donut production for example). In order to ensure you’re being economical with your oil, you need to test the TPM (total polar material) levels. The testo 270 Cooking Oil Tester offers a solution for controlling cooking oil consumption, as well as testing oil quality, to ensure consistent product quality. The testo 270 has been certified by both HACCP and NSF.

Thermal Imaging Cameras

Thermal imaging can be used in food production to reduce downtime, by checking mechanical components for wear so preventative maintenance can be scheduled to replace components that have degraded over time, before they cause failure and loss of production.

Another area a thermal camera can be used is in refrigerators or cold storage rooms. Using thermal imaging, you can identify areas where mould and other bacteria can grow putting food at risk and also detect faulty seals on refrigerated units leading to wasted energy.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how equipment can be used to help with your food safety strategy, please go to www.testo.co.uk


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