What Temperature Do I Set My Fridge at for Food Safety?
If your business serves or sells perishable food, you know that you need to maintain your refrigeration equipment at specific temperatures to keep your products safe to eat, and avoid causing illness.
But in a busy venue, if your fridges are humming away and the contents are cool to touch, it can be easy to assume that they are running efficiently and maintaining the correct temperature.
Unfortunately, that may not always be the case!
What do the standards say?
Australia’s food standards stipulate that “potentially hazardous foods” should be kept at either very hot (60°C or more) or very cold (5°C or lower) temperatures to keep them safe.
The following foods are examples of potentially hazardous foods:
- raw and cooked meat (including poultry and game) or foods containing raw or cooked meat such as casseroles, curries and lasagne;
- smallgoods such as Strasbourg, ham and chicken loaf;
- dairy products, for example, milk, custard and dairy-based desserts such as cheesecakes and custard tarts;
- seafood (excluding live seafood) including seafood salad, patties, fish balls, stews containing seafood and fish stock;
- processed fruits and vegetables, for example salads and cut melons;
- cooked rice and pasta;
- foods containing eggs, beans, nuts or other protein-rich foods such as quiche, fresh pasta and soy bean products; and
- foods that contain these foods, for example sandwiches, rolls and cooked and uncooked pizza.
For further information on potentially hazardous foods: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/documents/FSTemp_control_Edition_for_printing.pdf
Food safety is a significant issue in Australia. The NSW Food Authority states that approximately four million people are affected by foodborne illness each year across the country. The Food Safety Information Council puts the annual cost of food poisoning at $1.25 billion.
When a problem with food safety occurs in a business, it can cause not only illnesses but may also lead to losses in terms of revenue, insurance claims and deductions, stock spoilage, fines, and reputation.
It can take a long time for a business to recover. Some businesses have had to close altogether after a food contamination incident, due to the extent of the losses suffered.
How to maintain correct fridge temperatures
For food safety, your fridges and cool-rooms should be set to less than 5°C, and manually checked at least twice a day.
But even if you follow this protocol, problems can still arise:
- The temperature reading may be incorrect on the gauge or instrument.
- The temperature can be incorrectly read or recorded by the person checking.
- On a very busy day, checking of temperatures can be overlooked or forgotten.
- A power failure may occur, causing fridge temperatures to rise to unsafe levels before falling again when power is restored.
One way to ensure your equipment is kept at the right temperatures is to use an automated system that continuously does the job for you, and alerts you when something goes awry.
CCP’s automated temperature monitoring system provides a continuous display showing the status of all refrigeration equipment, and sends out a diagnostic alert when a problem occurs. Information is easily accessed via mobile phone or web.
How CCP’s solution works
Let’s say in a food business the temperature of a refrigerator rises to 7°C – two degrees above the safe level. With a CCP system in place, the temperature reading will be displayed on the screen, and an alert notification will be triggered.
This allows time for staff to quickly move the fridge contents to another cooling unit, and to get any necessary repairs done. Once the problem is fixed, food can be returned to the original refrigerator.
Lowering the risk of costly problems
A solution of this kind helps to override the potential for human error, and can save a business a lot of money – as one Sydney café found out when the fridge temperature rose to 12°C due to a problem with the motor.
The café owner received an email alert and was then able to quickly get repairs done – later commenting that the investment in the technology had paid for itself from that one incident alone!
In another case, a Sydney meals-on-wheels service saved around $3,000 when a CCP alert was triggered, and timely repairs meant a freezer unit breakdown was avoided.
Installing CCP’s automated monitoring system can provide you with peace of mind that your fridges, cool rooms and freezers are being maintained at exactly the right temperature, and that any issues will be caught early before they become costly problems!
Meta: Are you forever checking the temperature of your commercial fridges? An automated monitoring system takes the stress out of maintaining food safety.
LinkedIn: Do you operate a commercial food business? An automated monitoring system can help keep your fridges, cool rooms and freezers at exactly the right temperature to maintain food safety. Here’s how.
Further food safety references: