Digital data loggers are a key piece of equipment in many industries, especially highly regulated industries. Pharma, healthcare, medical device manufacturing, aerospace, and other industries all rely on these devices to ensure the safety and effectiveness of their products.
The food and beverage industry also relies on digital data loggers. These devices, which record and have the ability to transmit data about environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, or pressure, are an important part of the environmental monitoring process.
This process permeates the lifecycle of food products and helps keep food fresh and safe for consumers. From production to distribution to on-site storage, it is critical that organizations in the food industry keep a close eye on temperature. After all, maintaining foodstuffs at the right temperatures helps prevent contamination and foodborne illness.
Food safety is one of, if not the most important aspect, of the industry and digital data loggers play a vital role in this quality assurance practice. Here is how digital data loggers impact food safety.
The Importance of Food Safety
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there are approximately 48 million cases each year of people becoming sick from a foodborne illness. These illnesses can be quite serious. Of the 48 million, 128,000 people are hospitalized and 3,000 die annually.
The bacteria that cause more than 250 foodborne diseases usually can’t be detected by the naked eye. That is why it is imperative that food producers, distributors, and retailers keep food in the right environmental conditions to ward off these potentially harmful contaminants.
Digital data loggers play a major role in food safety, among other areas, according to Dickson. Here is how these devices help maintain safety at every level of the industry.
Many foods require an environment below a certain temperature threshold in order to discourage the growth of bacteria. Meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables all fall into this category. Digital data loggers can be used in processing facilities to monitor temperatures for consistency so that these foods don’t fall out of the prescribed range.
Dairy is another type of foodstuff that needs to be kept cold during the production processes. Dairy producers take raw cow’s milk and process it in different ways to create a variety of milk and cheese products. Once these products are created, they must be kept cold to avoid bacteria development.
Using digital data loggers, producers can create a temperature (or thermal when it involves heat and humidity) map of a space. This allows producers to know how every nook and cranny of their facility reacts in temperature changes to different conditions and different situations.
From there, producers can create an environmental monitoring program (also using digital data loggers) to make sure the temperatures stay consistent throughout the process and the facility. It also allows them to react to issues as they arise.
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One of the most sensitive food products that must be kept cold is meat. Beef, chicken, turkey, pork, and more are all very susceptible to developing bacteria. This is why, as the meat moves from producer to retailer, temperature control is key.
Digital data loggers that are internet-connected can be placed in planes, trains, trucks, and ships to monitor the temperature. The devices can transmit their data to a remote cloud-based monitoring system where the temperatures of the holds can be easily and efficiently monitored.
But even better, logisticians can create more granular food monitoring during distribution through Bluetooth-enabled data loggers. These types of data loggers can be slipped into individual packages that are being shipped. With data loggers in meat shipments, logistics professionals can see the precise temperature ranges individual packages experience during a trip through the cold chain and move quickly to remedy untoward conditions.
This type of very specific data is helping make food distribution safer than ever. Now companies can know exactly what temperatures their products experience during distribution. Organizations that implement these types of digital data loggers should easily be able to stay compliant with governmental regulations and keep consumers safe.
Even if food has been produced and distributed at proper temperatures, there is still one more step before it goes into consumers’ shopping bags or stomachs, and that is on-site storage at retail locations. These locations, primarily grocery stores or restaurants, have additional challenges in temperature monitoring because they generally deal with a wide range of products that must be kept anywhere from frozen to cold to room temperature.
In addition, once ingredients are altered at retail establishments, a new set of temperature requirements kicks in. For example, once you cut fruits or vegetables or cook formerly dry products like rice or beans, temperature requirements change.
One of the reasons digital data loggers work so well in these environments is that they provide alerts when environments change. If a digital data logger registers that a walk-in fridge at a restaurant or a frozen foods case at a grocery store goes beyond an acceptable temperature range, it can send an alert right to the computer or phone of the chef or grocery store manager.
This allows the problem to be rectified before it causes lasting and expensive damage to food products. In an industry where profit margins are so thin, which is especially true in the retail food industry now, saving food is hugely valuable.
Digital data loggers are changing the way organizations in many industries do environmental monitoring. In the food and beverage industry, these devices are making it easier, more efficient, and more cost-effective to monitor temperature at every level of the industry. The fact that digital data loggers save companies time and money is great, but keeping consumers safe is the real victory.