Excerpt: Tips & tricks for reliable and efficient temperature measurement in the cold chain.

1. Legal background

Good quality, low germ content and pleasant taste are paramount when dealing with foods. However, raw materials and finished foods which are stored, transported and prepared are exposed to dangers such as damage and spoiling. Reports on food scandals attract public interest and reflect the risks involved in dealing with foods. A food business operator must be familiar and comply with numerous legal rules and regulations:

General food law area Deep-freeze regulations
Legal regulations Legal regulations
  • VO (EC) 178/2002 Principles Food Safety
  • VO (EC) 852/2004 Food hygiene
  • ... 
  • VO (EC) 37/2005 Frozen food regulation
  • Directive 89/108/EEC Quick-frozen foodstuffs
  • TLMV Regulation on quick-frozen foodstuffs
Standards Standards
  • DIN 10506
  • DIN 10508
  • DIN 8959
  • DIN 10508
  • DIN 10501-1 
  • DIN 12830
  • DIN 13485
  • DIN 13486
Food manufacturing

Obligations of the food business operator

Who is a food business operator (FBO)?

A food business operator is anyone involved in activities relating to the production, processing or sale of foods.

Documentation:

FBOs have an obligation to prove to the relevant authorities that they are fulfilling the requirements of the regulation. They must ensure that the documents are up-to-date at all times, and that they are stored for an appropriate length of time.

Traceability

The food and animal feed business operators must be able to prove when, where and by whom the goods were harvested, produced, processed, stored, transported, consumed or disposed of.

  • Upstream: Traceability to the original producer e.g the farm
  • Downstream: Traceability from the producer via several processing and trade steps to the shop, and so to the consumer.

Compliance with the cold chain:

In the case of foods which cannot be stored at room temperature without potential problems, the cold chain must not be interrupted.

  • Any deviations (e.g. during loading and unloading) are only permitted within certain limits (maximum +3 °C) and for a short period of time.
  • In means of transport (e.g. containers) larger than 2 m², or refrigerated storage areas larger than 10 m³, the temperature must be recorded.
  • The thermometers used must be calibrated at regular intervals.

Training:

FBOs must ensure the following:

  1. Company employees handling foods are monitored in accordance with the nature of their work and are instructed and/or trained in food hygiene.
  2. People responsible for the development and application of this regulation or for the implementation of pertinent guidelines are given appropriate training in all areas of applying the HACCP principle.
  3. Compliance with all requirements of national laws regarding training programmes for employees in certain food sectors.

2. HACCP

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points
Hazard analysis and critical control points

Why HACCP?

The objective of this concept is to minimize food-related illnesses. Food should be made safer for the consumer. In order to identify whether a food may become dangerous, we should ask ourselves the following questions:

  • Does the product contain sensitive ingredients?
  • Is it intended for sensitive target groups (the aged, the sick, infants etc.)?
  • Are preventive programmes or preventive measures provided for in the manufacturing process in order to exclude risks or minimize them?
  • Are there potentially toxic basic substances present (fungi, spores, proteins)?
Germ development temperatures

7 principles of the HACCP concept

The HACCP concept is to be implemented effectively based on the following 7 principles: 

  1. Determination of the relevant hazards (hazard analysis)
  2. Identification of critical control points
  3. Definition of limit values (only for critical control points)
  4. Definition and implementation of efficient monitoring
  5. Specification of corrective measures
  6. Production of documents and records (documentation)
  7. Definition of regular verification processes (self-monitoring obligation)

The HACCP concept makes a distinction between critical points and critical control points. 

Critical points (CPs) 

are points in the process which do not pose a health risk, but can be regarded as critical in the procedure; e.g. quality parameters, compliance with specifications, identification.

Critical control points (CCPs)

are points at which there is, in all probability, a relevant health risk to the consumer as long as this point is not fulfilled (i. e. controlled) e.g. heating steps, sufficient cooling, monitoring of foreign bodies.

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Contents of the tips & tricks

  1. Legal background
  2. HACCP
  3. The methods of temperature measurement and their advantages and disadvantages
    3.1. Spot-check measurements with hand-held instruments
    3.1.1. Non-contact measurement with infrared
    3.1.2 Contact measurement
    3.1.3 Measurement of incoming goods
    3.1.4 Legal requirements of hand-held measuring instruments
    3.2. Data loggers and data monitoring systems
    3.2.1 Tips on selecting measurement locations
    3.2.2 Legal framework conditions for data loggers
  4. 6 things you should look for when buying a temperature measuring instrument
Cold chain guide