Validation and Verification

What is the real temperature of your food cold rooms?

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Food cold rooms are an integral piece of equipment when it comes to food safety. Welcome to Week 21 of the HACCP Mentor Food Safety HACCP Challenge. This week you are challenged to see if the temperature display of your food cold room or coolroom actually reflects the temperature inside of the room. The purpose of a food cold room or coolroom is to keep your food out of the temperature danger zone. With this in mind, it makes sense to incorporate a check to determine the performance of this type of equipment.

Why do we want to double check the food cold room temperatures?

It is always good to double check the operation of your critical food safety equipment. Simply relying on a display unit may cause food safety issues related to stored food if the temperature display unit is faulty.

Easily verify the food cold room temperature

The easiest and quickest way to check the actual temperature inside of your food cold room is to:

Step 1: Place a cup or container of water inside of your cold room. Leave this cup there for at least 24 hours. This will allow the water to chill to the temperature of the room.

Step 2: Write down the temperature as shown on the cold room temperature display unit.

Step 3: Place the probe of a hand-held calibrated thermometer into the water. Note down the temperature reading for the water.

Step 4: Compare the results from the two different sources.  Take corrective action if needed.

How often should the cold room temperature be checked?

It is up to your food business to make that call. However, you should take into consideration:

  • The overall risk to the food business including the type of food being stored
  • Legal or regulatory requirements
  • Customer certification requirements
  • The period of time that food is stored within the cold room
  • The temperature of the food being stored

Take note

A common misconception that I see as a food auditor and consultant is the belief by a food business that the temperature of the cold room is indicative of the temperature of the actual food stored within. If you are using your cold room to cool hot or warm foods the display temperature will be very different to that of the actual food. When controlling the growth of microorganisms in stored food items during this type of cooling process, it is important to take the food temperature.

Did you get a variance?

How did you go? Was there a variance between the temperature reading you recorded from the container of water and that of the food cold room temperature display? Share your results with the HACCP Mentor community by leaving a comment below. If you have any justifications for the variance you can let us know as well.

 

11 thoughts on “What is the real temperature of your food cold rooms?”

  1. HI,
    What is an acceptable variance that would pass calibration. Ie some hand held probes can not be calibrated. Would you discard the probe say if it is greater then 0.2 degree Celsius?
    Also I have seen the practice of probes with calibration stickers showing the -/+ variance on the probe, is this an acceptable calibration practice?
    Where would I find more information on calibration requirements?
    Is there a standard publication on the matter?
    Thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Damien

      It really depends on where you are located. For example, in Australia, there is food law that regulates that a food business must, at food premises where potentially hazardous food is handled, have a temperature measuring device that can accurately measure the temperature of potentially hazardous food to +/- 1ºC. This reference can be found at: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2014C01204 (Division 6, Clause 22)

      For your question regarding the calibration stickers on the probe – yes I have seen this in practice. The purpose is to indicate after the calibration what the variance is. The operator can then use this variance in consideration of the food temperature recorded.

  2. What a simple step to check the true temperature of your cold room by comparing it to a thermometer in water. Food safety is only guaranteed if we are properly using the science and technology we have.

    1. Hi Da. There is no hard and fast rules around this. When storing mixed loads, make sure everything is covered, raw product is stored on the bottom shelf and the cold room is regularly cleaned. Implementing some type of segregation will help to prevent cross-contamination. eg. meat in one area, vegetables in another etc.

    1. Hi Ray, it is either less than 5 degrees Celsius or less than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Just confirm applicable legal requirements for coolroom temperatures with your country of manufacturer.

  3. thermometer monitoring for temperature in cold room
    the bulbs are immersed in water .
    Is this necessary?Why or not?

    1. Hi Hnin Nu, if you are doing the calibration check against the coolrooms visual display, have the thermometer bulb that you are are using in the checking process immersed in water. So there is no confusion, please note that the actual coolroom thermometer is not the one that gets immersed.

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