The Hawaiian Islands are feeling a little chilly these days.
No, this isn’t a reference to last week’s story on El Niño. In fact it doesn’t have to do with weather at all. It’s the state’s restaurants that have recently found their business on ice. In fact, thanks to a new state regulation that requires food to be stored at a lower temperature, several restaurants have been forced to permanently close their doors.
In order to match federal standards, the state of Hawaii decreased the required cold food storage temperature by four degrees from the old standard of 45 °F to the new one at 41 °F. The change was made following a number of studies that showed foodborne illnesses could occur within foods that were stored above the new threshold. It also happened to coincide with an increase of listeria illnesses across the country.
One key point that the state’s Department of Health is trying to communicate is that the temperature standards are meant to monitor food temperature and not internal cooler temperatures. According to Peter Oshiro, a rep from the state health department, “The air temperature in the cooler can’t be 41 otherwise the food will be 47 or 48.” He went on to inform local restaurateurs that a fridge’s temperature should never be more than the mid 30’s to ensure maximum food safety.
The current belief is that food should be tossed if it is outside of the safe zone (below 40 °F for cold food; above 140 °F for hot food) for more than two hours. For that reason it is important to constantly monitor the ongoing fluctuations in temperature to ensure customers have the best, and safest, possible experience.
It is also important to understand how temperatures may fluctuate in different locations of your fridge. Just because it reads the proper level where the thermostat is located doesn’t necessarily mean that the food stored on the top shelves is always safe. For that reason, many companies map their fridges, facilities and warehouses to ensure they understand what intricacies they may have to work around. This reduces their spoilage and costs while maximizing their ability to avoid breaches in code.
We’ve covered warehouse mapping pretty extensively in the past, from an all inclusive guide to a number of hacks we’ve been able to pick up over time. While this practice isn’t required in all industries, it is one that can help everyone prevent bloated product costs. You can also find more on the practice from a Temperature mapping of storage areas paper that was published by the World Health Organization last year.
While there are certainly no guarantees, putting these tips into practice can help keep your business from showing up in a story about ‘foodborne illness.’ Once that happens, it’s a safe bet you’ll start to feel chilly for the wrong reasons as your customers give you the cold shoulder.
If you would like to learn more about mapping your facility, fridge or warehouse feel free to call us at 1-800-757-3747.