21st century blood temperature monitoring – Part 1

Interview with Reuben Isbitsky, founder of Timestrip UK Limited, which has just received FDA clearance for its 10°C Nonreversible Blood Transit Temperature Indicator.

 What does FDA clearance of Timestrip 10°C mean for your company?

It’s major milestone. Product-wise, we’ve been deemed and certified as having a medical device that has an accuracy level of ± 0.5°C and is suitable for transporting whole blood. FDA clearance for Timestrip 10°C will allow us to market this product for this specific application.

timestrip_blood_temp_10_portfolioAnd for our business, it marks a very important turning point. We started off as a time indicator company, which evolved into a temperature monitoring business, that is now a high-end medical device and healthcare business.

Moving forward, our business model will be to configure new products for specific and invariably speciality uses. We’re also going to be expanding our range of products for specific uses to enable the safe transportation of the different components of whole blood as well, namely platelets, plasma and frozen blood products. This will go a long way to maximizing the usability of all these components. For instance, even properly transported and stored whole blood only has a shelf life of 35 days, but plasma can be frozen and has many uses.

Lastly, for markets outside the US FDA clearance gives our product enormous credibility. Although FDA clearance cannot be enforced outside the US, in fact for many markets such as Saudi Arabia and India, it is used as an indicator of credibility and for tendering processes is even a prerequisite.

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Restaurants and seafood cold chain monitoring: trust, experience and correct protocols

Maintaining a correct cold chain is essential in managing the supply of seafood products in order to avoid contamination and food poisoning, especially from C Botulism. For restaurants and retailers, who are towards the end of a typical cold chain, ensuring this has occurred prior to delivery is a particular concern. Failure in this area can have dire consequences, both in cost and PR terms, and for consumers, they can be extremely dangerous and in some cases lethal.

tsplus_seafoodIn June for instance, the FDA website published an alert about a Florida-based supplier of tuna products that was obliged to initiate a US-wide product recall due to suspected C Botulism contamination of its product.

The manager of one major London restaurant says that the main ways his establishment monitors the quality of the seafood it orders are visual and olfactory inspection of the product upon receipt and the use of trusted suppliers that have the correct certification. The products are also checked upon receipt with temperature probes.

He says that a contaminated seafood product will “not look right”, that it will look “sweaty” and for fish as opposed to shellfish, that the eyes of fish that have “gone off” will look “dead looking”.

He also says that contaminated fish will have a distinct unpleasant smell and that his rule of thumb is “discard fish that smells fishy”.

He says that the scenario of the refrigerated delivery truck whose engine was switched off for a number of hours prior to delivery needn’t necessarily lead to a fall in the refrigerated ambient temperature within it as long as the truck’s doors haven’t been opened.

He adds that major points of sale of seafood products such as Billingsgate market in south-east London have power points specifically to ensure that the refrigeration units of delivery trucks are kept on, thus ensuring that the seafood products they are carrying are kept at the correct cooled or frozen temperatures.

He does concede though, that for oysters specifically, in his 40 years’ experience as a restaurant professional, statistically all restaurants that offer them will occasionally serve oysters that lead to food poisoning.

Lastly, he says that in his experience restaurants are extremely rigorous in the correct application of good food management principles and most cases of food poisoning from contaminated seafood in fact occur in private residences where there is much less awareness of these principles.

Furthermore, he says that among people who aren’t professionals of the food industry, there is also a poor understanding of food poisoning and in all suspected cases enquiries are always made about what was eaten in the previous 72 hours as invariably the cause of the incident was not what was last consumed.

Across the Channel in France, a similar approach also exists with a specialist Marseille-based seafood restaurant and retailer that has two busy branches and has been operating for over 60 years.

The manager of this business, who deals the most with quality and cold chain monitoring, says for him visual inspection of seafood products upon receipt of new stock is his most useful tool to determine whether an appropriate cold chain has been maintained.

He says fish that is spoiled due to not having been kept at the correct cooled temperature will “not feel right” and “not have the right firmness”. This, he says, occurs even before the product starts to smell bad.

He also knows that fish that is spoiled always have eyes that are not the correct colour, which is another indication that they haven’t been kept at the correct chilled temperature prior to delivery.

Another aspect of how his restaurant ensures the quality of the products they serve is to only use trusted suppliers and not to deal with intermediaries. Because of these strong longstanding relationships, his business benefits from a “no questions asked” returns policy.Timestrip plus food monitoring

He also says experience is also key, pointing to the 60+ years his establishment has been in existence.

However, like his counterpart in the UK, beyond many years’ professional experience and the use of trusted suppliers and mainly visual inspection of seafood products upon receipt, no cold chain monitoring tools are used.

Both also were emphatic about stressing the value of their respective establishment’s reputation and how damaging an outbreak of food poisoning would be. This, they both said, was always one of the main issues at the front of their minds when they managed their seafood products.

However at one of Marseille’s main teaching hospitals, one senior nurse was extremely dubious about how restaurants manage and monitor seafood cold chains. Her many years’ clinical experience was that they often cut corners and few would discard products that might be spoiled, but could not be returned, due to the appropriate cold chain not having been maintained. She also said she thought this extremely worrying situation would occur even if sophisticated temperature indicators were used at all stages of the seafood cold chain.

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Food Temp™ Helps Comply with the 2 Hour – 4 Hour Rule for HACCP Plans

Timestrip® has a new range of Food Temp™ indicators which have been specifically developed for food shipping and storage.

The newly designed temperature breach window on the Food Temp™ 5°C indicates breaches lasting between two to four hours.

Why 2 Hour – 4 Hours?

 2 Hour - 4 Hour Rule for HACCP Plans Explained

In the food industry, food with the potential to grow hazardous pathogens are kept safe from developing harmful levels of bacteria using a HACCP Plan with a 2 Hour – 4 Hour Rule.

If the food is exposed to a temperature breach for less than 2 hours, bacteria have not been developing quickly and can be returned to the safe temperature.

Users can see that the breach window on the Food Temp™ indicator has remained white and can return products to the safe temperature.

If exposed to breach temperatures above 2 Hours, but under 4 Hours- bacteria levels have begun to rapidly multiply but have not reached dangerously high levels.

When users see blue in the breach window, it will alert them they must use the food immediately and cannot be returned to storage.

After a 4 hour exposure to a temperature breach, bacteria have had the time to multiply to unsafe levels and cannot be consumed.

A completely blue window on a Food Temp™ indicator lets a user know that the food product is unsafe to use and must be immediately discarded.

For more information, see our Food Temp Indicator page.

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