A leading cause of foodborne illness is time and temperature abuse of TCS (food requiring time and temperature control for safety) foods. The FDA Food Code protects public health by mitigating risk factors known to cause or contribute to foodborne illness. Part 3-4, Sub Parts 3-401, 3-402, 3-303 and 3-404 specifically relate to cooking, freezing, reheating and other processes susceptible to microbial contamination. Time and temperature are critical control points in safely processing foods containing raw animal foods, including eggs, fish, meat, and poultry.
Good Manufacturing Practices
Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) are the cornerstone for producing high quality, safe food. GMPs are the practices, procedures, and policies implemented to ensure a safe and sanitary environment for food processing, packaging and holding. GMPs provide guidance in the food processing environment and include the following topics:
Plants and Grounds
Sanitary Facilities and Controls
Equipment and Utensils
Processes and Controls
Warehouse and Distribution
Defect Action Levels
Production and Process Controls
Current Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) are published in Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 110 (21 CFR 110). GMPs establish the methods, equipment, facilities, and controls for food processing procedures. Part 1.2.4, Production and Process Controls (Subpart E) addresses the monitoring of physical factors (critical control points), including time and temperature. Foodborne bacteria thrive in temperatures ranging between 135°F – 41°F (57°C – 5°C). This range is so ideal for bacteria growth, it’s classified as the Temperature Danger Zone. In this temperature spectrum, bacteria multiply at a rapid rate. Food processors must practice vigilance in properly monitoring time and temperature to avoid contamination.
Tools for Time Control
Commercial-grade food processing timers manage actions over a period of time or control how long actions last. A digital counter is used to trigger an action based on a predefined time, such as thawing or cooking activities. Large display digital timers provide a supplement to smaller panel or DIN rail mounted range timers. Expansive food processing plants and extensive production lines call for a highly visible time source. An ultra-bright, red LED digital display format provides optimum visibility with up to 250 ft (4″ digit format) of viewing distance. A Digital Timer ensures precision in time-critical tasks with a visual indication of elapsed or remaining time during each timed process. Using a digital timer helps comply with Good Manufacturing Practices such as monitoring critical control points.