How Therma° helps you comply with FSMA regulations

Learn how Therma° can help you comply with Federal Health and Safety (FSMA) guidelines.

FSMA guidelines in food manufacturing

Every year in the US, 48 million people contract foodborne illness. Of those 48 million, 126,000 of them require hospitalization and 3,000 die. These are staggering numbers for a country with the largest cold storage capacity per capita worldwide. Unfortunately, these severe incidents of food-borne illness are largely preventable as 85% of food spoilage is due to time and temperature.

To combat the dangers of foodborne illness on the American public, Congress passed the Food Standards Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2010. This law created uniform food safety standards for food manufacturers nationwide. Congress passed the law intending to shift the strategy from responding to contamination events to preventing them.

This change in tactics came with a new requirement: “adequate temperature controls” in food manufacturing facilities. This wording is obtuse and has little clarity for those who need to comply with it. Read on to learn more about employing temperature controls in your facility and how to better comply with this law.

The FSMA and Temperature Monitoring 

Before the passing of the FSMA, the US experienced several high-profile food contamination scares. From spinach to fast food, mass contamination events were commonplace in the late aughts. As the issue rose in prominence, the government looked into the food storage practices around the industry and released an eye-opening report. What the public saw was not pretty. It was clear that regulations needed to be overhauled, especially considering it was over a decade since the last time they had done so.

In 2011, with the passing of the FSMA, Congress handed broad authority to the FDA to enforce the new protocols. Among the stipulations was the requirement for adequate temperature controls. In essence, this statement mandates any number of temperature tracking devices, including thermometers, temperature data recorders, or temperature sensors.

Adequate temperature controls and reporting 

You may be surprised to see thermometers listed as a method of adequate temperature control. Thermometers, after all, are one of the oldest methods of monitoring temperature. What sets these regulations apart from previous incarnations is the necessity of a paper trail. Operations are now required to submit certifiable records to prove that temperature abuse has not occurred in the storage or shipping of food products.

To facilitate this requirement, the FDA encouraged the use of temperature recording devices in the food manufacturing industry for the following reasons:

  • Accuracy: Quality temperature monitoring devices come pre-calibrated, reducing the possibility of temperature drift and inaccurate data.
  • Accountability: Temperature monitoring devices often also have a software component that validates that the temperature check occurred and when.
  • Ease of use: Compared to manually recorded logs, digital monitoring systems provide easy to evaluate data visualizations and reports that span the period since installation.

Therefore, while thermometers are still permissible under the law, the additional leg work, such as temperature checks and pen and paper recording, may not be worth the time. Temperature monitoring devices automate the process, making it easier for operators and inspectors alike.

Selecting a temperature monitoring device 

The guidance around temperature monitoring devices is open-ended, but there are several qualities you should look out for when considering which system is suitable for you.

  1. Wired and Systems: Wired systems constitute the first generation of temperature monitoring devices. They consist of a sensor that uses literal cables to connect to a computer or other recording device. Wired systems also tend to be highly consistent and accurate. Unfortunately, these systems require an expensive build-out process, requiring product-specific maintenance personnel.
  2. Wireless Systems: Wireless systems rely on sensors linked to the cloud by wireless signals such as LoRaWAN, Bluetooth, and WiFi. Wireless systems provide many advantages, such as ease of use and quick set-up time. Unfortunately, some signals don’t operate effectively in the warehouse environment.
  3. Range: Food manufacturing facilities operate in large warehouses, sometimes stretching multiple city blocks. When shopping for a temperature monitoring system, consider whether the device can span the size of your facility.
  4. Connectivity: The infrastructure of many facilities in this industry can be dense. Keep in mind that metal-plated walls of walk-in freezers to concrete barriers can and will disrupt the signal between your devices.

If you’re thinking about employing a temperature monitoring device in your food processing facility, consider Therma°. Therma° is a wireless temperature monitoring and analytics platform built with the food industry in mind. Our sensors rely on LoRaWAN, making them functional in any environment, even the warehouses utilized in food processing operations. Our system is easy to install and provides up to the second alerting and verifiable reports to protect your inventory and bottom line.

The best part? Therma° only costs $10 per sensor per month, bringing maximum scalability to your business. Buy now and save $15,000 per year.