Category Archives: Temperature monitoring

Technology upgrades to temperature monitoring

Temperature monitoring technology leaps forward.

New updates in IOT temperature sensors means even more reliability, better ranges, security and ability to update firmware via the internet. Here’s the tech.


IOT temp sensors

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ALTA products use Encrypt-RF™ bank level security, featuring a 256-bit exchange to establish a global unique key, and an AES-128 CTR for all data messages. So security is maintained at all communication points from sensor to gateway, gateway to software, and back again.

Integrated on-board data storage allows for days, weeks or months of time-stamped data logging.

Over-the-air (OTA) updates allow ALTA products to be updated remotely making them future-proof, to learn more about automated temperature monitoring , click here 

i-temp temperature monitoring

Monitoring Food Storage Temperatures – Using tech to help the Chef

TEMPERATURE CONTROL RULES Why is Temperature Control important?

Temperature control is important because harmful bacteria are a hazard present in many of the foods handled in catering businesses.

They also tend to multiply rapidly at temperatures above 5c, the higher temperature and longer the time exposed to the temperature the faster the bacteria growth . As bacteria are invisible to the naked eye and cannot be physically removed from food, all we can do is control their numbers.

There are two main ways in which temperature can be used to achieve this:

  1. We can destroy harmful bacteria, or reduce their numbers, by cooking or reheating and
  2. We can control their growth by keeping food hot or cold.

Lets look at cold.

The following practices are recommended to keep food safe. Your refrigerator should operate at an average of 5°C or below. These temperatures would then be the Critical Limits for Refrigerated Storage. Refrigeration of food temperature of 5°C or below is effective in controlling the quick multiplication of most bacteria in perishable food. It is recommended practice to operate refrigerators and chills at 5°C or below. Freezing of food should be done at -18c.


Time and temperature.

Just because food storage exceeds 5c for a short period of time does not mean that bacteria instantly grows at a rapid rate, your refrigeration being above temperature for a SHORT period of time is not dangerous.

Scientifically it has been shown that bacteria on high risk foods rapidly increase when the food is above 5c for periods exceeding 2 hrs, at 4hrs the food should be discarded.

The issue arises when refrigeration is cool but not cold! Eg A prep cabinet running at an average of 8-10c instead of below 5c. Whilst the bacteria won’t grow as quickly as if the food was at room temperature it will grow and at a dangerous rate, and this is where most hospitality operations get caught out.

I see so many refrigeration units that constantly run in the 5-10c zone, it’s scary. And to be honest in a hot kitchen environment it’s often difficult for small refrigeration units that have doors constantly being open and closed, especially with ingredient wells in the top to maintain correct temperature.

If you are only checking your refrigeration twice a day then you are assuming or guessing that the other 99% of the day the temperature is correct.

Aside from correct food safe procedure, ensuring proper refrigeration temperatures can result in improved shelf life of product and general quality of.

Food manufacturers and major suppliers don’t make guesses or assumptions that all their refrigeration temperatures are correct 24/7/365, they use digital technology to ensure it is, and it’s also far more economical to have technology to this and provided accurate records than employ staff to do so.

Using technology to help Chef’s

The ‘IOT’ world (internet of things) has arrived and its now entering the commercial kitchen space. Basically IOT means things that are connected to the internet , and hopefully add value to our lives.

We can now add temperature sensors to all refrigerated storage areas in the kitchen and have those sensors talk to the internet.

We can tell the sensors how often to talk to the internet and when to be alarmed about a set of data. From that we can direct the sensor to do something.

Basically if the sensor see’s that your coolroom is running at a temperature deemed to be too high for too long we can ask it to tell us, in most cases many people, normally via  SMS text and or email to a smart phone/pad or computer.

As long as the customer has access to the internet they can see current and past history of temperatures of their entire site at the push of a button form anywhere in the world!

With this information the kitchen manager/chef/food safety supervisor can make a decision on what needs to be done, could be a simple as shut the coolroom door properly , or check the food and perhaps discard.

The sensors collect  massive amount of data, basically they are checking your refrigeration temperatures 24/7/365 and then they are storing this data for future access or better still to produce a weekly report as evidence that food storage temperatures are at correct temperatures.

The minimum standard in Hospitality is to collect data samples twice a day , in some health food service sectors it maybe every four  hours. If you  have a lot of fridges this can be a very costly exercise, time wise, time=money. Why pay staff do do it (that may or may not do it correctly if at all!) when technology can do it for you?

Not only can technology do the task for a fraction of the costs of human labour it does it ‘independently ‘ , ‘accurately’ and with lots of data and evidence that can actually be called a ‘fair sample’ of evidence. Twice a day is nothing, it’s less than 1% of the day the other 99% is unaccounted for !

For further information on automated temperature monitoring visit 

Fine Foods Australia 2017

Fine Foods Australia 2017, the food service and hospitality trade show was back at the new look ICC Sydney, and it was bigger, than ever before , more brands, suppliers, product, information so much so that i honestly can say I didn’t get to everything and everyone, and that’s with 2 full days on site.

The new International Convention Center Sydney

In a very rare statement , i will go out and say I saw a LOT of new product and ideas this year, in fact heaps, too much to actually cover here! There were new offerings from existing suppliers and new suppliers with new product and a lot of QUALITY product that had been well thought out.

A trend through out many of the information sessions was embracing new technology to help your business and how technology will impact the industry, from how social media marketing such as Tribe can add massive marketing power to an operation for very little to how robotics will impact. A well known ‘futures’ speaker addressed the senior leaders of the equipment industry at a presentation about such, and No2 on his list was IOT and Sensors! I was asked to present further information on the talking food stage and with an audience that included chefs, catering managers, hospitality teachers and local health inspectors the message was clear, technology is the only way you can ensure accurate data and recording keeping economical. using technology to help food safety

Equipment trends, cooking with charcoal and wood was definitely up there. Personally i find the trend to be an old one as its taken nearly 10 years to catch on! I was promoting the benefits of this type of cooking using Grill Dome Kamado’s  , back in 2007! I’m glad chefs have finally woken up that wood, smoke, and sealed cooking = flavour!, even if the suppliers  are 10 years behind!

Fantastic Charcoal Oven/Grill combinations from Spanish manufacturer Josper (this type of cooking is very common in Spain) and these guys have been doing it since 1969.

Josper oven and grill Sydney 2017

Not only is the flavour, aroma and visual presentation better with wood/charcoal cooking its much better for the environment. The equipment requires no water/plumbing/drainage no power, no gas its fueled by naturally sustainable timber, the left over ash can be used in compost also, fantastic for the garden, and in most cases the fats that are expelled during cooking from meats are burnt off on the coals as you cook so there are no fats going down the drain. Added to this the thermal build properties of equipment designed for this purpose are always extremely thick/insulated/ often with stone hearth and heavy cast, which means amazing heat retention, in the right unit you can cook all day and night on just a couple of loads of charcoal and timber, Wood/Charcoal Cooking is much more environmentally friendly  than most of the cooking equipment we use commercially. And importantly the equipment is built to last for many many years, unlike the current industry trend where they design and build with replacement market sales in mind. 

There is a draw back to all of the above in Australia though, and that is our exhaust canopy rules and regulations, keeping it really short, currently you require a separate canopy and duct system, and that can add a lot of money onto set up costs.

A fantastic shiny red cooking suite by Mareno looked amazing, not as practical as what it actually looks but a real eye catcher.

Mareno fine foods Australia

There was a massive range of food service display equipment some really high quality also, one item that is common in the USA and not here in Australia yet is the grab and go open deck, sealed top display, I can see this really taking off, especially this unit that was really well spec’d and built.

Grab and Go Cafe display

Warewashing, always the part where everybody rushes past, i’ll admit its hard subject to get passionate about! There was heaps there and a lot of innovation. Under counter machines made in black stainless which helps with that ugly s/steel glass washer in view of the public and matched the black bar fridges. Bin Washers, a vertical 2 door up right multi level dishwasher, looks just like a 2 door drinks fridge, (i’m not placing any bets on the success of that concept, 1Hr wash time and super expensive)

Almost water less pot washing by GRANULDISK using tiny pellets that blast the soiled containers, pretty radical , but in Europe and other countries where they are really serious about the environment (unlike Australian Government )  saving water and chemicals is a big  thing, so big that the Marriot hotel group are ordering these in volume and have been awarded  a green hotelier award, in fact many hotel chains in Europe are using these  , the maths on water/chemical and power savings is astounding.

GRANULDISK commercial Kitchen Design Australia
Commercial Kitchen design inspects GRANULDISK

Auto sensing exhaust canopy systems, using a sensor it can tell when it needs to adjust fan speeds, so when nothing is cooking its very low, saving power and noise, then when things crank up it senses the odors and emissions and adjusts the fan speed to suit, no more noisy kitchens during prep time!

auto sensing exhaust systems

What else caught my attention?

Fantastic dry aged beef cabinets, beautiful deli slicers, multi purpose compact brat pan/pasta cooker/bain marie a machine i could use in just about every kitchen design! Display fridges with no center mullion and frame less glass doors allowing massive visual display, Retro look fridges, countless wood fired grills, refrigerated display drawers, excellent build quality and spec display cabinets, heaps of induction cookers, Solid Teknicks  Australian made steel pans (awesome design build and excellent for induction) , pressurized multi cooker stirrer kettles, Shepherd filter savers,  (award wining)

There was also a huge range of new imported brands of cooking and refrigeration equipment , most of which did not need close inspection as the quality (or lack there of) could be seen from a long way away! I’m always looking for new brands/suppliers and equipment , but the trend by many to try and import in a cheaply and poorly built knock off a regular brand is frustrating. Typically these suppliers target first time mums and dads operators, newbies to the business if you like that simply don’t know better and can’t see any problem with a fridge or oven that looks the same (if you don’t look too hard) being 25-30% of the cost of a reputable established brand/supplier. What results is the inexperienced operator purchasing purely on price , suffering huge losses in breakdown costs, energy costs and then having to replace all that rubbish they purchased initially with quality, its foolish false economic savings.

It’s also really bad for the environment producing poor quality, high energy equipment that  really just ends up in the tip in a short time, that’s land fill, and more resources wasted building crap again! There should be a law against anything that is manufactured clearly below certain minimum standards, we do it with cars, but not other items.

Catering equipment is an unregulated market in Australia, there is no real standards protecting  consumers with regards to quality its pretty much open slather , anyone can import what ever and see if they can make a quick buck, buyer beware.

‘If it looks to good to be true, it probably is!’

Having said all the above it is still very frustrating with some lines just how expensive some of our equipment is, with google its pretty easy to see how much the same thing costs overseas! The way the industry is set up (and controlled by a few massive multinationals)  and low sales volumes and high freight here in Australia the end user is faced with little choice but to pay. So I totally understand why people try and come up with more economically priced solutions.

As per usual at these shows a showcase lot processed mass volume foods , that I rushed past.  This years food trend,  lots of wheels of cheese, heaps of wheels of cheese , it was Pecorino /Chedder/Parmasan overload this year! Couple of stand outs food drink products below.

Espresso martini machines, best ready to go product was ONYX coffee spirits , and award wining flavour Pearls from Peninsular larder.

espresso martini
Maximum visual merchandising True Refrigeration 

There were also some great information sessions during the event, I’m always surprised more people don’t attend these, self education is not a strong part of the hospitality industry! In particular i sat in on a great ‘food waste’ session,  in Australia we are very wasteful, we don’t recycle well and much of that has to do with the fact that waste is cheap . One statistic that was researched and documented found that 60% of food waste within the industry comes from the customers plate! And the number One  reason why the food was  left behind/wasted, ‘there was too much food!’

Fine Foods Australia 2017




USA updating food safety laws & NSF

Back in 2011 the USA’s food safety governing body FDA set about updating and rewriting their food safety legislation and guidelines, it’s taken up until now to for much of it to be finalized and available to read, and there is plenty to read! FDA info here

The USA take food safety seriously, very seriously and as such really leads Australia in direction and standards.

This you may find unusual for a country that seems all to happy to consume copious  amounts of processed fast food crap! But if you go into those stores you will see such things as ‘drinking straws individually wrapped’ , ‘tooth picks individually wrapped’ and in my observations the average Americans hand washing technique and time taken to so is far better than the average Australian. There is an in built culture (or paranoia!) about germs  and food safety, just not calories and nutrition!

Part of the reason for strictness in food safety also links back to the massive ‘franchise’ food network in the states, it’s really hard to find a food business that is not part of a chain or group, and some of those chains are in the THOUSANDS not just a few stores! So IF an issue of food safety occurs at one store, and word gets out it’s not that store that is the main problem it’s the damage done to the other 1,000 stores in the chain! The issue can taint all of their brand and reputation and bring a large organisation to their knees for something that may have happened as a once off on the other side of the county…a good example would be chiplote..there is heaps of articles about it  this is just one example,

Bad news sells, the media love to bring businesses down, they have probably fed millions of meals over the years with no hassles at, but that doesn’t sell in media land!

The other issue in the states is shear volume, massive population and massive food producers, some may say to few producers, but when big business runs all the smaller players out of town you end up with super food factories. You might end up with for example one or two factories producing all the burger patties for Mcdonalds for example…IF something goes wrong at that factory with the product because they are supplying to millions of customers each week you are in fact risking millions of people, not just the 100 who ate at store A!

an oldie but a goodie on the subject, America a fast food nation,

So generally as a result the states is pretty strict, as mentioned before even small wares (tong’s spoons etc)  used in the industry all have to be passed and rated NSF. Makes sense  if you think about it, here in Australia a typical small franchise would look to save $1 on a set of tongs…but not consider quality and safety…now if they were cheaply made tongs with silicone/rubber ends that franchise could easily find themselves with a customer at a store with bits of tong rubber in their salad! The chances of such happening in the states would be much lower as they would only use NSF approved tongs, so they would have been tested for quality and durability to reduce the chance of the same happening. more about NSF here

So back to the FDA changes.

I haven’t read the entire documents just the basics. But the big shift is what they are aiming for is early prevention rather than reaction. And a lot more proactive on spot inspections where it will be compulsory for all operators to have all their food safety plans and documentation accurate and up to date.

The reading suggests using digital data monitoring and logging of food storage temperatures,  and lets be totally honest with ourselves here, WHO does it ACCURATELY , REGULARLY and Honestly? Very few is the answer to that. Secondly whats the point of checking and recording twice a day, its POINTLESS a grade 4 science teacher would fail you if you suggested that checking temperatures for 2 moments of time over 24hrs is sufficient evidence to base a finding on, clearly its not! You may have checked a refrigerator both times of the day and struck it on full defrost cycle, the data from that would suggest you have a serious temperature issue! The real fact is for the other 23.5Hrs of the day your storage may have well in the correct zone.

and old saying ‘ to monitor ones performance, first we must measure the results’ 

if you haven’t already check out

or watch this video


Oil’s ain’t Oils!

Well I’m not going to attempt to break down all the different types of frying oils/fats (or mediums being the technical term) with exception of Palm and Cotton Seed, this is more about ‘filtering and different types of fryers.

Palm Oil…do a quick google on the harmful environmental issues of Palm Oil…enough said .

Cotton seed can’t be much better seeing we damn half of this country and bugger up all the water ways down stream just so we can grow cotton??Aside from that go and pull out a 10 yr+ old fryer from a fish and chip shop that has been using cotton seed oil…the toxic resin/gum that builds up is horrific, cannot be good for you!

Fryer Types

Its hard to break this down without going into pages and pages…but Fryers are a major part of many commercial kitchens and business, they cost heaps to run, heaps to purchase and can consume insane amounts of oil, the lack of attention clients give to selecting the fryer for their operation is staggering, the wrong choice could cost them thousands per year.

Years ago all fryers were flat bottom, mainly width was the main performance difference, the burner technology (Gas) was primitive to say the least, round baskets in square/rectangle fryers were normal! Yep that makes sense round shape in square wastage of energy or oil there!

The big change happened with ‘V’ base fryers and also more compact in size to suit the neatly fitting baskets, size/shape is easy to see the performance difference there, but what about the V bottom?

Basically it was worked out that many fried products were crumbed or battered and a lot of that ended up coming off the food and floating in the fryer, but once it cooked these crumbs would fall to the bottom of the fryer and form a layer of crumby/crust gunk! So A) the gas burners had to get the heat through this layer of gunk to get to the oil so wasted energy B) doing so actually just burnt this gunk/waste more and more resulting in ‘dirty’ tasting oil and also causing  premature oil failure, (think of an old smoking fryer you may have seen used). This resulted in needing to change the oil more often or sooner than ideally required, which equals BIG $$$ per month per year.

So the ‘V’ base works as it allows the crumbs to fall deep down into the middle of the fryer and down into that big valley. That Valley is MUCH cooler than up higher onto top of the burger sections, so the crumbs don’t cook and burn, resulting in massive oil life increase, in some studies 25-30% more..also the efficiency of the burners being just under the baskets means much faster recover times of the oil temperature.

So ‘v’ these days is the norm for nay place doing volume. Is there a place for flat bottom fryers?

YES! yes you say but what how/why? Chips (not coated plain type) as there is very little waste of plain chips we don’t have that problem caused by crumbs and batter. So we can flat bottom the fryer and it will take up to 25-40% less oil in the tank! So straight away a 40% less oil to purchase, no brainer you say…hmmmn I say not so fast…as I am seeing so much ‘coated’ or ‘treated’ chip product out there these days, and with that a lot of that treatment will fall off in the cook. So its a case by case consideration.

Tube Burners are quite popular as many are priced at the affordable end of the scale. Hopefully the below image shows the difference in types, many tube style fryers incorporate a v also. The down side to tube burners is that they are harder to clean, the manufacturers would say differently but it is a fact.

Where they win is ‘efficiency ‘  of the burners (gas) as the tubes are immersed in the oil they are contacting more of the oil and tend to have a higher performance rate than other burner types, so for items like chips they are a good choice.

Deep fryer types

Pressure Fryers

The other type of fryer, often not thought of in Australia with exception of a well known chicken franchise, but in the states commonly used in many different business. The short story is faster, moisture cooking especially for boned in chicken pieces. Rather than write too much I found this great explanation video…couldn’t of said it better myself, take notes on the the discussion about the cold zone, and self filtration machines.

Electric or GAS?

Save your homework, go into all the ‘major’ fast food franchise restaurants of the world they use electric, they have have invested huge chunks of time and money into their product/Equipment  R&D they haven’t come up with this same answer time and time again by mistake!

Put your hand over the back of a deep fryer (over the flue) and see for your self NO DON’T DO THAT you will get burnt! That’s how hot that wasted air/energy is , and you paid for it if its your fryer! With electricity the elements are in the oil, there is much less energy wasted.

Having said that getting enough power into a kitchen can often be an issue, especially on renovations and expansions, so Gas is often the answer

Thermostat so important! If your fryer isn’t at correct temperature when you drop those baskets of chips you are going to ‘soak’ a lot of oil up into the product, rather than the medium ‘sealing’ the product and frying it, under temp fryers can cost you thousands in oil each year, not to mention a poorly cooked greasy food item! Invest in a fryer that shows you by a light or display of some sort that says it’s reached temperature and its ready to go!

Accuracy of the thermostat is crucial, for the reason above and also to ensure you are not cooking at too high a temperature, to high simply means you risk burning the oil/food, ruining taste and also risking fire! Too high will also reduce the lifespan of your oil.

Filtering at the risk of preaching to the converted this is SO CRUCIAL the more you filter , the better you filter the longer your oil will last and save you thousands of dollars per year, plus the food will taste better.

How to do it and how often? As often as possible especially fryers that have messy products eg S&P calamari, do it after every service, seriously EVERY SHIFT watch your oil life increase and costs decrease.

How? With a filtering machine and proper micro filters, get the best. If you can afford it and you have multiple fryers invest in a self filtering , auto top up system, most of the brands have them, with these you can filter many times per day all day, without staff, so much safer and cheaper, these systems in busy places will often pay for themselves in oil saving within 1-2 years.

An example of one type of auto system is shown here,


Other ways you can increase the life of your oil is to filter your self with a floor based system where you empty the oil into a tank and it filters and pumps back into the fryer. These systems are fine when done after hours and no one is working near the fryers, they do have a fair bit of OHS risk also if the oil is too hot and someone knocks the tube, but they work well and are good base IF they are used regularly.

A combination of the two methods above is a Vito machine, the advantage of such is that it doesn’t take up floor space and can be simply move from one fryer to another, you can also run multiple filters per vat per day.

Here is how they work.

The Inspiration for a fryer topic?

I’m in the position of being able to walk into MANY different kitchens each week, and the common trend these days I see is to have ‘someone sort out your oil for you’ . What a great service and idea, no more storing drums of oil/fat , dealing with disgusting waste oil/fat stores, ordering it’s all managed for the client, the truck comes each week and swaps it all over , its a great improvement for kitchens and chefs for sure, massive as they can spend that time on more important tasks. However with it I have  seen a complacency to be aware of oil/costs/use/ and lifespan as it’ now all taken care of by someone else.

If you were to implement some of the above tips, maybe you could  extract  an extra 2 days out of your oil before it ‘really’ needed to be replaced , rather than this is the day of the week it gets done. Lets say a client implemented just the Vito strategy on 4 fryers after each service and they did extend the oil life, maybe they could be looking at an extra 50-100 days of oil x 4 fryers. Work out how much your organisation  spent on oil last year / 365 and that’s your oil cost per day, now take that at x 50 or 100…the maths is compelling.

The thing to keep in mind with the oil /swap/fill service, is that their money is made each time the filling truck comes to you, they are not in the business of extending a customer oil too much otherwise they are cutting their own income off, its like BP showing you a way to increase your cars fuel performance x 25%, its not going to happen!

Operators are keen to cut penalty rates on Sunday’s, increase meal costs to customers, but rarely do they get into the nitty gritty of ‘non obvious running costs’ such as power consumption or in this case oil/fat consumption, I bet everyone could save thousands off their oil costs by filtering properly and often.

Keeping your cool!

Another one in the obvious but clearly not obvious category.

Cool room door strips, Cold Shields. If you don’t have them on your doors you are wasting money.

They were/are designed for a specific purpose that is to keep cold air in and hot air out, and guess what they work! Manufacturers will claim numbers like 25% improvement in temperature controls, which in some cases I would say yes, others less so, all depends on the operating ambient temperatures and or drafts/breezes.

Chef’s hate them as we have to brush through them and if you are carrying a tray of something delicate you can bet that the strips will smack into the goods and ruin them!

But for the inconvenience of having to have someone open the strips for you occasionally, the business is going to be saving thousands of dollars in energy costs, coolroom motors cost a lot to run and if they are working over time even worse, for  a few hundred dollars you can save thousands  and also give your coolroom a chance of actually working to correct food safe temperatures, they are a non negotiable.