Refrigeration ECO Mode… Beware!

Commercial refrigeration is energy hungry; and energy costs in the cold chain influences profitability. Studies estimate that 15% of the world’s electricity is used for the refrigeration of food. According to the Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) program, commercial refrigeration consumes approximately the same quantity of electricity as the combined total of all residential lighting and refrigeration in Australia and New Zealand.  Commercial refrigeration is estimated to account for 4% of emissions from Australia’s energy sector and 6% of emissions in New Zealand. With rising energy costs and growing environmental concerns, the pressure is on to reduce energy use.

In response to growing demand for energy efficiency, the commercial refrigeration industry has offered:  ECO Mode. But look before your leap.

ECO Mode can operate in different ways. For example, some are pre-programmed (e.g. ECO mode starts at normal store closing time); and some ‘smart’ fridges include controllers that ‘learn’ when to automatically make energy saving adjustments to operating parameters.

But how does the refrigeration unit know what product-level temperature will sustain food safety and product integrity? The answer, of course is that it doesn’t. And that’s where problems can start.

ECO Mode can put food safety and shelf-life at risk

ECO Mode can put food safety and shelf-life at risk

Recently, one of our customers installed a new fridge. But they weren’t told about the ECO Mode setting.

With CCP installed in the fridge, our system analytics identified a disturbing temperature pattern. Temperature tolerances in this new (very expensive) fridge were being regularly breached (in one case for 6 hours. The shop owner investigated the issue and the cause was quickly found. A licensed refrigeration mechanic installed the new fridge with ECO Mode switched on. At night, when there was minimal movement and fridge door events, the fridge controller’s ECO Mode fuzzy logic kicked-in and decided it didn’t need to keep the fridge as cold. But unfortunately, the fridge ECO Mode didn’t consider food safety regulations and the need to maximise product shelf-life. So, the ‘smart fridge’ wasn’t so smart after all.

Fortunately, our customer took immediate steps to have product relocated and the fridge reprogrammed. ECO Mode is no longer used.

The question is: how many food businesses are inappropriately using ECO Mode in their commercial refrigeration?

Manual temperature checks will not detect issues unless you check the product-level temperature when the fridge is in its low-energy mode.

With continuous (so-called ‘real-time’) 24/7 temperature monitoring, these types of issues are easily detected.  And with CCP installed, you can use business intelligence to minimise energy consumption by safely optimising refrigeration equipment.

Our tip: If you are storing high-risk perishable food products in a commercial refrigeration with ECO Mode, check to see that you’re not comprising food safety and reducing product shelf-life.

 

Why critical control points are so important!

A definition of Critical Control Points

Critical Control Points are the points in a supply chain where a failure of standard operating procedure has potential to cause serious harm to people – and to a business’ reputation and bottom line.

An example critical control point

It’s widely understood, that temperature is a critical control point in food supply chains. For example, it’s vital that the temperature of food, particularly high-risk perishable food (e.g. raw or cooked meat, foods containing raw or cooked meat, smallgoods, dairy products, seafood (excluding live seafood), processed fruit and vegetables, cooked pasta and rice, foods containing eggs, beans, nuts or other protein-rich foods, and food containing high-risk perishables) is monitored to prevent foodborne illnesses.

In Australia, an estimated 4.1 million domestically acquired cases of foodborne illness occur every year, costing an estimated AUD$1.2 billion per year.

Food safety programmes and ccp monitoring

HACCP provides a methodology to identify all potential hazards, determine the critical thresholds for each, and make each a critical control point that you monitor and manage.

By monitoring critical control points you’ll keep food safe; i.e. away from the Temperature Danger Zone – between 5°C and 60°C which is the optimum temperature range for bacteria to thrive on food. This rapid growth leads to foodborne illnesses and renders food unusable.

As part of a HACCP programme, setting your refrigeration temperature properly and continuously (24/7) monitoring the temperature of fridges/freezers/coolrooms and display cabinets (where high-risk perishable food needs to be stored) is inextricably linked to best practice.

CCP Technologies for Food Safety

At CCP Network Australia – part of the CCP Technologies Limited (ASX:CT1) group – we’re all about innovation in critical control point monitoring and management.

By using our Internet of Things (IoT) hardware, cloud-based software and taking advantage of new business models, wireless temperature monitoring is now affordable. There’s no up-front hardware cost and the low monthly fee makes wireless temperature monitoring available to all sized businesses. And if temperature goes out of tolerance, you’ll get an alert notification sent to your mobile phone and/or email.

At CCP, we’re at the forefront of critical control point monitoring solutions, with sensors to cover temperature, humidity, door open/close events and more. We empower businesses to make better decisions with data capture technologies, sophisticated analytics and business intelligence information.

For those pursuing peace of mind, excellence in HACCP and maintaining functional critical control points, check out CCP’s monitoring system.

Shut the Fridge Door!

Yolove-is-an-open-dooru’re not only wasting electricity which costs you $$$, you’re also compromising the quality of food in the refrigerator and people’s health & well-being.

According to Home Energy Magazine, while you stand with the fridge door open contemplating on what to eat, the wasted energy accounts for 7% of the appliance’s total energy use.

By opening the fridge door for lengthy periods or numerous times you allow the cold air that keeps your food fresh and safe to escape.  The cold air is replaced by warm air from the room.  Your refrigerator’s compressor then works much harder to drive the warm air out and bring the temperature back to normal.  This will only add to your monthly energy bill and your environmental footprint.

Based on research, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida confirmed opening and closing your fridge door wastes 50 to 120kWh a year. Putting that into context, saving 100kWh annually is a free load of laundry every week for an entire year.

For businesses, you can lower your environmental footprint with CCP’s automated monitoring solution. Optimise refrigeration assets with affordable wireless 24/7 monitoring of temperature and door open/close events. Real temperature alerts will provide peace of mind – minimising the risk of business disruption from refrigeration failure.

Shut the Fridge Door!

Shut the Fridge Door!

You’re not only wasting electricity which costs you $$$, you’re also compromising the quality of food in the refrigerator and people’s health & well-being.

According to Home Energy Magazine, while you stand with the fridge door open contemplating on what to eat, the wasted energy accounts for 7% of the appliance’s total energy use.

By opening the fridge door for lengthy periods or numerous times you allow the cold air that keeps your food fresh and safe to escape.  The cold air is replaced by warm air from the room.  Your refrigerator’s compressor then works much harder to drive the warm air out and bring the temperature back to normal.  This will only add to your monthly energy bill and your environmental footprint.

Based on research, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida confirmed opening and closing your fridge door wastes 50 to 120kWh a year. Putting that into context, saving 100kWh annually is a free load of laundry every week for an entire year.

For businesses, you can lower your environmental footprint with CCP’s automated monitoring solution. Optimise refrigeration assets with affordable wireless 24/7 monitoring of temperature and door open/close events. Real temperature alerts will provide peace of mind – minimising the risk of business disruption from refrigeration failure.