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Test and measure your way to risk reduction

02 April 2018

Ashton Bayliss looks at some of the most important safety equipment and measurement technology for food processors to ensure safety and protect reputations. 

The frequency of UK food alerts has been steadily increasing in recent years. The Food Standards Agency reports show that there were 56 food alerts issued in both 2013 and in 2014. The frequency in 2015 and 2016 was more than double that, at 121 and 148 food alerts respectively.

This increase highlights the need for effective quality processes, to reduce the risk of an event occurring, and to provide proof of the highest level of due diligence in the event of an issue. Keeping cases to a minimum is the end goal, which requires quality managers to have the correct tools.

Automated temperature monitoring
One overnight system failure can cost a company hundreds of thousands of pounds in wasted goods, yet it is something that 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. A wi-fi data logger in the warehouse or storage room monitors fluctuations in temperature and send alerts if necessary. Users can then access the readings via an App on smart devices or a PC.

An automated system removes the need to manually collect data manually, freeing up staff to undertake other tasks. It also helps with auditing, as the information will always be up to date and in one place.

Data loggers can also be a useful tool, to undertake a range of monitoring applications in the food processing sector – from simply measuring temperature in a cold storage room, right through to logging the temperature of production items or the surface temperature of machines or motors themselves.

Temperature monitoring
Thermometers are required in many applications within food manufacturing, for simple temperature spot checks and robustness is a hugely important feature for such equipment. The Testo 108 thermometer is waterproof, sturdy, and has an IP rating of IP67. It also has the option of colour-coded cases, allowing different probes to be allocated to specific food groups, to avoid any cross-contamination issues.

Infrared measurement
Infrared measurement can be a useful tool in the food industry to provide a quick indicator of the surface temperature of a product, without touching the product.

pH meters
Because pH levels impact the appearance, taste and quality of food products pH testing can offer a valuable tool in the food industry. For example, during yoghurt production, improper pH levels can cause discolouration or insufficient tartness. In contrast, incorrect pH values in pork will impact the water holding capacity of meat, which can negatively affect the product's saleability.

Testing cooking oil
Cooking oil testing is frequently used in the hospitality sector, but can also offer benefits in food production facilities where frying is. To ensure you are 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.

Thermal imaging
Thermal imaging can be used in food production to reduce downtime. Checking mechanical components for wear allows preventative maintenance to be scheduled to replace components that have degraded over time, before they fail and cause unexpected production downtimes. Thermal cameras can be used in refrigerators or cold storage rooms to identify areas where mould and other bacteria can grow and detecting faulty seals on refrigerated units.

Ashton Bayliss is product marketing manager at Testo UK.

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