Calibration

The importance of scale calibration

Scale calibration or the lack of, can have detrimental effects on your food business. Not only can it leave your food business open to regulatory action it can also encourage your customers not to buy your food product again.

The Challenge

Welcome to Week 9 of the HACCP Mentor Food Safety HACCP Challenge.  The challenge set for this week is to go and check that all of your scales have been calibrated.

How to complete this challenge

Step 1: Grab a copy of your documented calibration schedule. If you don’t have one, you can click here to download a template that will help you document one for your business.

Step 2: Match up the last calibration record for all of the scales that you have on your calibration schedule. This maybe include both internal and external scale calibration.

Step 3: Any scales that were found to be out of the scale calibration period, organise to have these calibrated.

Optional task

You can also take this opportunity to check that the location, frequency of calibration and scale serial numbers are correct to what is documented within your calibration schedule.

Why is scale calibration important?

The main reason to ensure that your scales have been calibrated is to ensure that the scales are reading correctly. This can have an impact on the risk exposure for your food business in a number of ways including:

  • Finished product weight different to labelled weight

Finished product that goes out to you customer (especially in the retail environment) that is less than your stated label weight, can leave your business exposed to regulatory enforcement.

  • Maintaining consistency with your recipe

Some food businesses may use several different scales within the raw material weigh-up. This can impact the overall finished product specification if scales are not calibrated. For example, if your scales were out by say 10%, this would mean that the raw material going into the recipe is out 10%. The impacts on the final food include both food safety and food quality attributes. Eg the final food maybe too salty if salt % was incorrect.

  • Product profitability

If your food business is on the ball, I am sure that the ‘bean counters’ know exactly how much it costs to make a finished product. This would include the cost of each of your raw materials that go into make that finished product. If the sale price has been calculated based on x% of raw material A, any change to that (through scales not weighing correctly) can have an effect on the finished product production cost.

HACCP-Mentor-Scale-Calibration

Who completes your scale calibration?

You may currently complete both internal calibration of your scales and external calibration. Internal scale calibration may involve checking all of your scales at the start of production and at different times throughout production. This is usually performed using a set of calibrated test weights by a person who has been adequately trained.

External scale calibration is where an external authorised authority checks and calibrates your scales. This calibration company would usually provide some type of scale calibration certification record.

Feedback

If you completed this #FSHChallenge, please let me know how you went. Did you have to make any changes? Was all of your paper-work and records in order? I also encourage you to share this post with your team.  It may just help others who are not well versed in the reasons why we have to ensure that all of our scales have been calibrated.

4 thoughts on “The importance of scale calibration”

  1. Hi Amanda,
    Thanks for the post. It is very informative.
    Is internal calibration of scales (using a certified weights) alone sufficient?
    My scale says ‘not legal for trade’ ? what can i do in this case? internal calibration is okay for this case?

    Thanks,

    1. Thanks for your question Victoria. As a general rule – yes, when you are using certified weights for scales marked ‘not legal for trade’. You may also want to check with the “Fair Trading / Consumer Affairs” department in your country of manufacture.

  2. I didn’t even know that you could internally calibrate a scale. I have a lot of learning to do. I will make sure to follow your advice and find a manual about the process. Thanks!

    1. The best way is to use a set of calibrated weights Luke. You can refer to your external scale calibration provider for the method that they suggest. I generally get my consultancy clients to check the scales via the 4 edge method and the centre method. Making sure that your scales are on a level an stable surface is also required.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get free HACCP advice and updates

Find out how to better implement and manage your HACCP, legal and food safety compliance requirements by joining the HACCP Mentor newsletter.

Scroll to Top