How to identify and combat temperature excursions with Therma°

When the temperature of your cold storage exceeds safe thresholds your inventory is at major risk of spoilage. In order to reduce food waste and increase safety, read this article to learn how to identify and combat temperature excursions.

Therma's suite of software tools allow users to quickly and easily identify temperature excursions.

Increasing the longevity of foodservice inventory can be the difference between operational success and failure. However, proper inventory storage is more complicated than you may think. Despite best intentions, cold storage conditions can fluctuate and cause temperature excursions that exceed food safety thresholds.

The ability of your cold storage equipment to maintain static temperatures over time ultimately dictates food quality, safety, and shelf-life. Therefore, identifying and combating temperature excursions is of the utmost importance, but it’s not easy. During the hectic pace of service, your team may not notice your equipment is out of threshold. Manual temperature checks may not reveal these occurrences if temperature equipment is improperly calibrated, or temperature logs aren’t easily accessible.  

So how exactly do you identify and combat temperature excursions? Read on to learn how. 

What is a temperature excursion?

A temperature excursion occurs when cold storage exceeds its recommended range for safety and quality.

In foodservice, this typically applies to cold storage measure temperature within the “food safety danger zone” – conditions above 40°F for periods longer than two hours. Perishable inventory is at risk of becoming hazardous to consume when stored in this state.

Despite most foodservice applications revolving around warming events, chilling and humidity events can also ruin fresh inventory by causing frost, freezing, or bacterial growth.

Why is the identification of temperature excursions important?

The raw ingredients you purchase for your business are often one of your most significant monetary expenditures. The average restaurant spends about a third of its budget on inventory. Unfortunately, food waste represents the value of 28-35% of total sales in a restaurant, with 85% of that waste caused by a lack of time and temperature control.

Considering how central temperature is to inventory loss and the economic incentives for reducing restaurant food waste, it’s clear there are great rewards for identifying and combating temperature excursions. 

How do you identify temperature excursions? 

Spotting temperature excursions is not necessarily intuitive. While there may be times where you or your team will enter your walk-in and notice it’s warm, these occasions are rare and usually signify equipment failure. Over time, most temperature excursions happen slowly, caused by a gradual seepage of warm, moist air from the kitchen. Likely, they aren’t noticeable unless you look for them. 

Many foodservice businesses conduct manual temperature checks of cold storage areas at regular intervals to make sure inventory is stored outside of the food safety danger zone. These checks involve a designated team member manually checking thermometers and manually recording the data on pen and paper.

There are significant issues with manual temperature checks because:

  • Your staff may not have the time to record the temperature correctly during the busy pace of service. 
  • The temperature shown on the thermometer may not be correct due to improper calibration.
  • Temperature excursion may occur rapidly, therefore an excursion caused by a situation such as a door being left open for a prolonged period, may not be noticed or recorded. 
  • Gradual equipment temperature trends may not be noticeable without a team member auditing paper temperature logs. 

Because of these possibilities, there is always the risk your inventory may have been compromised and possibly is not safe to serve. 

How do you combat temperature excursions? 

The first step to combatting temperature excursions is to correctly identify them, which is best accomplished by utilizing a dedicated temperature monitoring and analytics platform, like Therma°. Our system consists of: 

  • Sensors that constantly measure temperature in your spaces 
  • A hub that transmits the sensor data to the cloud 
  • Software that interprets the data and displays it for analysis 

By providing up-to-the-minute data, Therma° keeps you in control of your cold storage spaces. If your temperature exceeds safe thresholds, Therma° will alert you and your team through SMS, phone call, push notification, or email. With this information, you can take actionable steps such as relocating your inventory, adjusting the temperature of your unit, or calling out a technician to investigate the possibility of an equipment malfunction. 

How much money can I save using Therma°?

Your potential savings will vary depending on your business and various other factors. Restaurants save money by eliminating the labor costs of temperature checks, the cost of emergency maintenance calls, and loss event prevention. This adds up to most locations saving about $15,000 per location per year! 

Interested in seeing how much money you can save using Therma°? Buy now and see for yourself how automated temperature monitoring can improve your bottom line.