Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Three Key Food Manufacturing Regulations

Posted on: August 25th, 2015 by Dickson No Comments


Fish Products

Fish and Fishery Products Hazards and Controls Guidance Fourth Edition – April 2011 

The Food and Drug Administration’s 2011 Guidance Document for processors of fish and fishery products was developed to help those processors better adhere to Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans. The overall theme of this document is a two step process: hazard identification, and hazard control. 476 pages in length, this document is robust. Some of the key (and a bit scary) chapters include: ”Chapter 5 – Parasites,” ”Chapter 14 – Pathogenic Bacteria Growth and Toxin Formation,” and ”Chapter 21-Glass Inclusion.”


Dairy Products

United States Department of Agriculture: ”Milk for Manufacturing Purposes and its Production and Processing”

How did the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines ”Milk” in their 2011 Recommendations? A lot of different ways! In their regulatory document, which offered up guidance on farm requirements, quality conditions, and more for dairy producers, the USDA defined milk as cow milk, goat milk, sheep milk, or water buffalo milk. That leaves out non-animal based milk like soy milk, rice milk, and almond milk. There are also three ”levels” of milk quality: Production Milk, Rejected Milk, and Probational Milk.


Meat Products

United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

Meat producers can be inspected at the state, retail, and federal levels. At the federal level, three different ”marks” exist for the type of inspection that can be carried out, based on the type of meat being inspected, and when that meat is inspected in its manufacturing process. They are: Inspection mark on carcass of beef, pork, lamb or goat, Inspection mark on processed beef, pork, lamb or goat, and Inspection mark on raw and processed poultry.



7 HACCP Regulations, Explained

Posted on: July 27th, 2015 by Dickson No Comments

HACCP Principles Explained

Below we outline the 7 Principles of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points for Food Producers, as outlined by the Food and Drug Administration. These principles are essential for food monitoring, especially when it comes to creating consistency in your food manufacturing process. No one likes Salmonella, Listeria, or finding something crazy in their ice cream.

Principle 1: Conduct a hazard analysis.

A hazard analysis is an identification scavenger hunt. After you have assembled a HACCP team, the first step in the HACCP Principles is to find hazards in your facility that are likely to cause injury or illness if they are not monitored and controlled. This step is long and tedious, but for good reason: the list of potential hazard points will inform the rest of your HACCP plan. Food producers should examine raw materials, individual steps in the manufacturing process, storage, distribution, packaging, and transportation.

Principle 2: Determine the critical control points.

In their ”HACCP Principles & Application Guidelines,” The Food and Drug Administration has this to say about finding critical control points: ”Critical control points are located at any step where hazards can be either prevented, eliminated, or reduced to acceptable levels.”

So, this is the logical next step in the HACCP Principles. When determining HACCP Critical Control Points, your HACCP team should be on the lookout for thermal processing, chilling, chemical residues, and any location where product safety could be compromised. Where are those locations? Refer to Principle 1.

Principle 3: Establish critical limits.

Critical limits allow a food production facility to know the minimum and maximum values at which a product is deemed safe, and not a food safety hazard. An example of a critical limit, is internal temperature reached during cooking. To safely cook away bacteria in a food production plant for say, chicken tenders, a minimum internal temperature will have to be reached, and that is where you should set your critical limits.

Principle 4: Establish monitoring procedures.

Hey monitoring! We know about this! The idea behind monitoring procedures is to have down, in writing, what, where, and when you will be monitoring during the food production process. The goals of monitoring during food production are simple: to establish a product track/identity, and to know when critical limits were passed at Critical Control Points.

Principle 5: Establish corrective actions.

When you screw up, you should know what to do! According to the FDA, ”Deviations from established processes may occur.” With corrective actions, your overall goal should be to prevent a food that passed a critical limit from making it to the consumer.

Principle 6: Establish verification procedures.

Frequent reviews are key! A good HACCP plan shouldn’t need an overwhelming amount of end-product testing, as long as the critical control points are being properly monitored. That being said, monitoring is not and end all be all solution for food producers. HACCP plan evaluations can assist you in verifying the safety of your products. You want to verify records, team members, and Critical Control Point monitoring.

Principle 7: Establish a record keeping and documentation process.

Don’t forget the documentation! We always say that ”documentation is key,” and HACCP is no exception to the rule. Documenting isn’t enough to adhere to HACCP regulations though, you need to establish a process to keep up on your documentation.



Varsity Blues and Reds: Where You Should Be Monitoring In Your University

Posted on: July 8th, 2015 by Dickson No Comments

Hall, Trinity College, Cambridge

A few months ago, we discussed a story that the Yale Daily News had reported on: a data server failure that brought down the entire university’s website and email accounts, during the wonderfully inopportune time of semester finals.
We’ve been working with universities for a long time. You can find Dickson data loggers spread across the educational frontier of America, and in colleges and universities abroad as well. But researching that Yale story, and writing about how server room temperature monitoring can prevent data loss, opened our eyes to the diverse challenges that face a university campus when it comes to temperature and humidity monitoring.

College campuses can sometimes seem like small, weird cities. These cities have food services, restaurants, libraries, parks, housing, municipalities, hospitals, and more: everything a normal city does. While they are run by 18-25 year olds, and the bar-to-human ratio may be a little higher than normal cities, college campuses function as mini-cities.

And they should be treated as mini-cities when it comes to temperature and humidity monitoring. It’s easy to associate college with the classroom, but for a long, long time now, they have been much more than rooms filled with a chalkboard and desks.

Where should data loggers be placed at in a university? We’ve outline a few of the spots below. This is in no way an exhaustive list. But it does highlight some of the areas that data loggers, chart recorders, and thermometers should appear in on a college campus.

University Hospitals and Clinics

The university hospital is becoming synonymous with ”hospital,” and so it’s worth mentioning here, especially for all of you large research universities. For the smaller colleges, it’s all about the student health care clinic.

Now, there are dozens of places a university hospital should place a temperature data logger (many of which are required by regulators). We’ve listed a few examples of places to monitor below:

Vaccine Storage

Blood Bank Storage


Organ Storage

Clean Rooms


HVAC Outputs

We should preface this list by acknowledging that ”HVAC Outputs” is a pretty general location. Consider this a hodgepodge of the the areas of your university that should be monitored if you feel that they could be trouble if your HVAC system stops working properly. Also, these areas are great locations to test or validate your HVAC system. These locations include:

Libraries and Book Stores

Dorms/University Housing

Recreational Areas

Warehouse Storage

Agricultural Research Areas

Food Services

The cafeteria(s) on your university’s campus have food, and a lot of it. With thousands of students eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday in dining halls, and with a large staff that includes everyone from experienced quality managers to naive part-time freshman, the food services of your university is a machine with a lot of parts. Some of those parts need to be kept cold or hot, and thus they need a data logger. Locations you should consider monitoring in university food services include:



High-temperature dishwashers

Large Ovens

Also, consider getting a thermometer with a piercing probe. These little devices can help you determine if red meat and poultry have cooked all the way through.

As you can see, there are a lot of places a university needs to worry about temperature. For more information on how Dickson can help keep your university from getting too hot or cold, visit



FDA Temperature Mapping and Monitoring Explained: A Dickson Translation

Posted on: May 18th, 2015 by Dickson No Comments
FDA Compliance Temperature Monitoring

FDA Compliance Temperature Monitoring

When it comes to regulatory bodies and concrete descriptions of how exactly you should be monitoring your environment . . . well it never comes to that.

Most regulatory bodies are vague in their recommendations for how you need to be monitoring your product’s temperature.

The FDA is no different.

However, there are some regulations out there that will help you avoid that dreaded FORM 483 from the FDA. In this edition of Dickson Translations we look to two FDA regulations and explain what they tell us about temperature monitoring in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

1. 21 CFR 110.80 – Food For Human Consumption

This section of the FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations speaks to the processes and controls associated with food for human consumption. It specifically states that ”Raw materials . . . shall be held at such temperature and relative humidity . . . to prevent the food from becoming adulterated…”

What it means: When storing the raw materials associated with food production, keep them at a safe temperature and humidity. Vague like most regulations, this FDA regulation does tell food producers something crucial: raw materials need to be monitored. This affects not only the manufacturer, but the supply chain that produces the raw materials for the manufacturer. It extends the reach of the FDA’s regulation of food.

2. 21 CFR 203.32 – Prescription Drug Marketing

This section of the FDA’s Code of Federal Regulations outlines the storage and handling requirements for drug samples. It states, ”Manufacturers, authorized distributors of record, and their representatives shall store and handle all drug samples under conditions that will maintain their stability, integrity, and effectiveness . . .”

What it means: All drug samples should be stored in proper conditions. It may sound strange to find a regulation on drug storage in a marketing regulation, but it sits there nonetheless. This regulation is important because it focuses on pieces of the supply chain that may normally go unnoticed. Drug samples are usually manufactured, stored, and shipped in much smaller quantities than entire batches of product. However, the FDA is stating that samples also must be stored under correct conditions. How do you prove you did that? With temperature monitoring.




Essential Parts Of The Business To Consumer Cold Chain

Posted on: January 15th, 2015 by Dickson No Comments

The Business To Consumer Cold Chain

A lot of effort and concentration is focused on what happens to products within a manufacturing facility, whether that be food products, pharmaceutical products, or medical device products. Once the product is made, it should be safe to consume, right? Right! As long as best monitoring and quality practices have been executed, finished products should be good to eat. The problem, is that we don’t eat our food right at the manufacturing facility. It has to get to us.


For manufacturers, monitoring their finished goods is one of the final steps in their part of the cold chain. It’s also one of the most important. When finished goods spoil and become unsafe to consume, a company can see the direct cost of a lost sale, and the indirect cost of all the materials and labor that went into that lost sale. If you plan to monitor the temperature anywhere in your manufacturing facility, monitor those perishable finished goods.


The cold chain wouldn’t be the cold chain without . . . transportation. Moving goods from a business’s facility to a consumer’s home is the name of the cold chain game. With transportation comes cooperation. Cooperation between manufacturers, distributors, and resellers on keeping items that should be kept cold, cold.


Quick question: how come grocery stores don’t monitor the temperature of their coolers and freezers? Doesn’t seem to make sense, right? Well, they don’t because there is no precedent for it, and there are no regulatory consequences to not monitoring temperature. Whenever we visit a restaurant, local pharmacy, or down-home grocery store, we love when we see just one temperature data logger in a facility. But, shouldn’t there be more?