The social distancing guidelines and other measures put in place by both the federal government and the country’s states and territories due to the COVID-19 pandemic have severely restricted common activities, from travelling to work to eating out.
Although the Sydney Morning Herald reported massive surges predicted by some third-party delivery providers haven’t yet been realised, there’s no doubt that delivery meals – ordered directly from restaurants or via an app – are nonetheless popular during this time of social distancing. Keeping temperature-sensitive ingredients and cooked food safe during the very last stages of the supply chain is always critically important.
As delivery becomes a temporary replacement for eating out in the wake of this public health emergency, businesses involved in getting orders to customers must place a high priority on food safety – and that includes temperature monitoring.
The effects of not monitoring temperature-sensitive food
7 News shared an example of improper food handling creating major and immediate consequences. A popular roast chicken chain temporarily shuttered two of its locations in the Perth area following an incident where a concerned individual photographed unpackaged raw chicken sitting in the boot of one of the company’s delivery vehicles. While the boot was lined with cardboard, no other safety precautions – ranging from acceptable packaging to maintaining a safe temperature – seemed to have been followed. The temperature in the area was at least 30 degrees Celsius.
While an extreme example due to the photograph gaining traction on social media and among reporters, and because of the incredibly unsafe food handling procedures on display, this incident is a powerful reminder. The public will often react negatively to major breaches of food safety guidelines and businesses can face major damage to their reputations when identified as providing unsafe food.
Emphasising food safety throughout the supply chain
Temperature monitoring for food arriving to, stored in and leaving a restaurant is vital for the business and any delivery services it may partner with. There are key considerations to make in regard to safe temperatures at each stage. Addressing requirements in all of these areas is absolutely vital for reducing the possibility of contaminated food spreading dangerous bacteria to customers, as well as the associated reputational and financial harm.
Food Standards Australia & New Zealand makes it clear that businesses are responsible for ensuring the safety of the food and ingredients they accept from suppliers. While many steps may need to be taken to address all food safety concerns, infrared and penetration thermometers are critical solutions for checking that food is outside of the danger zone of 5-60 Celsius.
Storage and handling
Well-informed restaurant operators understand the need to regularly take readings in their cold storage areas and any other places where temperature-sensitive foods may be kept. Similarly, they recognise the need to keep food in a safe range when it’s moved into prep areas and brought into the cooking process. Food monitoring solutions for storerooms, as well as instruments for ensuring a high degree of hygiene within kitchens themselves, both support food safety as products move their way closer to consumers.
Making its way to customers
While the 2-hour/4-hour rule for food safety at danger zone temperatures is the most practical tool for restaurants making deliveries and third-party delivery companies, using thermometers can serve as an additional line of security. Ensuring that food is outside the danger zone when picked up for delivery can help third-party drivers better understand delivery deadlines in relation to food safety and reduce the risk to customers.
Testo is here to supply your business with a wide range of thermometers and temperature logging tools. Contact the Testo team to learn about effective solutions for your needs.