Letting Go of the Old Paper-Based Food Temperature Record-Keeping Method
GENEVA, OH, September 27, 2016
For the past 50 years, quality control technicians have recorded temperature measurements at food processing plants with paper and a pencil on a clipboard. The technician would later either enter data manually into a local database or file the paper in an antiquated filing cabinet. Filing systems contained numerous reports from suppliers, spreadsheets, PDFs, etc. It could take hours, if not days, for someone to sort through them to find non-compliant results—all just to find a few erroneous documents that might require action. If this was the case, production would come to a halt and disrupt the sales process.
Manual entry of temperature records also introduced the opportunity of making more human errors. These include transposing numbers when writing the temperature and transcription errors during data entry. Even good typists make about 8 errors per 100 words. Additionally, paper documents can be easily misplaced or inadvertently discarded; they are also more likely to be destroyed in a fire or plant disaster. Paper record-keeping systems also require extensive filing cabinet systems that consume factory or office floor space.
In short, a totally paper-based process is time-consuming, inefficient, and insecure. Once the data is gathered from the production floor and entered into a database, the responsibility of maintaining records is transferred to the corporate IT. Another option is retaining data on a dedicated offline computer, which makes the data subject to disk failure, damage, or an in-plant disaster.
With the USDA’s stringent preventative focus and regulations, hunting through filing systems is just not an option. Food manufacturers need to catch errors at the time of measurement and enact corrective measures immediately—before food safety becomes an issue.
Keeping up with modern production and reporting accurate, repeatable, and reliable measurements needs to be at the top of your priority list. Keep your eyes open for next week’s post to learn how TEGAM offers an automated temperature control system that will facilitate compliance with the FSMA.
To learn more about food temperatures and safety and how to comply with the FSMA, download “Preventing Foodborne Illness: The Farm-to-Fork Focus of the FSMA.”