Proper Temperature Control inside Coolrooms to Avoid Food Contamination

27 August 2018

Perishable coolroom contents cannot abide contamination. Besieged by these taste and freshness tainting markers, consumable products incur nasty little question marks above their poorly cooled containers. Is a bad taste the worst issue here? Or has a harmful bacteria spread? Like the Schrodinger’s cat thought experiment, there’s no real way to know without further action. However, by proactively controlling coolroom temperature, we can regain control of this potentially health-jeopardizing situation.

What is Proper Temperature Control

Shrugging off the uncertainties, and thoughts of cruelly trapped cats, we begin by establishing coolroom baselines. The thermostat keeps the thermal envelope constant. If the gauge is rising and falling, an energy audit will get to the heart of the matter. Perhaps an insulation leak is causing the refrigeration unit to work overtime. Anyway, with the coolroom audited and cooling, what’s the bottom line temperature, the low that avoids food contamination? Well, in a standard coolroom at least, a chill 4° C is mandated. In freezers, the frozen low starts at 0°C, and it continues downwards.

Maintaining the Baselines

Past articles have dealt with enclosure insulation and refrigeration units. We’ve underlined the importance of these system components by describing temperature auditing procedures, all so that stored foods have the best possible chance of avoiding food contamination. Expanding upon this line of thought, we can go deeper into the food refrigeration process. For starters, are the baselines set in stone? A tolerance of plus or minus a single degree doesn’t seem too harsh. But now the coolroom manager has started wondering about the accuracy of the primary system thermostat. A second temperature monitoring device is placed inside the coolroom, right among the food. If there’s a major difference between the two readings, the thermostat may require calibration.

Extending Coolroom Management Duties

As mentioned above, temperature control mechanisms don’t also work well if we blindly obey system thermostats. Following this approach, a skewed temperature readout will allow bacteria to propagate. Avoid this food contaminating eventuality by double or even triple checking the readout. Use secondary measurement systems, data recorders, and more. Add to this procedural approach a method of assessing the pH levels and chlorine content of the icy medium. After all, certain chemical reactants can impact the frosty baselines we’ve outlined here today.

Water activity, ice formation, wastewater disposal, and chemical intrusions, all of these environment-afflicting influences exist inside coolrooms. It’s the kitchen manager’s job to keep these influences in check. Remember, not everything is black and white in this setting. Even food contaminating bacterias don’t always die in a frozen atmosphere; they hibernate and wait for a temperature rise. Keep perishable food fresh, keep it chilled properly, and absolutely keep consumables free of normally harmless pH influencers and chlorine.

Mark Connelly
C&M Coolroom Services
Mobile: 0412 536 315

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