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  • HACCP Inspections: Active Managerial Control

    The FDA’s stance on Active Managerial Control

    More now than ever, the active communities of review and ranking sites have provided a clearer window into restaurants and food establishments, and needless to say, this transparency and honest feedback is invaluable to owners and consumers alike. With that said, restaurant owners and operators are also tightening their in-house food safety practices to prevent spoilage and bacterial infestation. In the larger picture, these practices reflect well on the operational capability of the establishment, and also serve to prevent the stigmata of food inspection violations. 

    The FDA has long published documentation on prevention and adherence to the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) preventative approach for food service. Still, many restaurant owners and operators are unaware or unfamiliar with these practices and suggestions, and to this day, health inspectors are suspending licenses and punishing these businesses for failing to comply. While reviews and consumer feedback are invaluable to the welfare of a restaurant or food establishments, these inspections are not to be overlooked or ignored. The following explication of active managerial control serves to inform you about the basics of HACCP, and what you should expect from a visit with the health inspector.

    Temperature@lert HACCP Food Safety Monitoring

    One of the primary objectives of a health inspector is to observe the level of active managerial control, or as the FDA defines “the purposeful incorporation of specific actions or procedures by industry management into the operation of their business to attain control over foodborne illness risk factors.” In short, such actions and procedures are a preventative and proactive approach to food safety, as opposed to reactive post-disaster tactics. Following this approach is critical for any food establishment or restaurant to ensure best practices in the kitchen. The above statement specifically cites foodborne illness risk factors, of which are outlined below.

    • - Food from Unsafe Sources (farms, meatpacking plants, etc)
    • - Inadequate Cooking (to subpar temperatures)
    • - Improper Holding Temperatures
    • - Contaminated Equipment (bacteria, mold, dust, etc.)
    • - Poor Personal Hygiene (for line cooks, chefs, and prep personnel)

    The health inspector will be focusing on these five points of failure as they represent the most sensitive areas for food safety and food consumer protection. There are a number of tactics that can be used to avoid these risk factors, and while some dwell in the neighborhood of common sense, others are not so obvious. The following food safety management tips are taken directly from the Regulator’s Manual for Applying HACCP Principles to Risk-based Retail and Food Service Inspections. Consider this a quick ‘cheatsheet’ for your next inspection, and be sure to employ as many of these smaller strategies to conquer the larger goal of safe food practices. These represent FDA-approved guidelines for HACCP compliance.

    • - Standard Operating Procedures for critical operational steps in a food preparation process. This includes cooling, heating, reheating, and holding.
    • - Recipe Cards or ‘cheatsheets’ that contain specifics steps for individual item preparation. This should include important boundaries such as final cooking temperature, verification, and directives for temporary storage.
    • - Monitoring procedures for preventing bacterial growth, spoilage, and proper cooking/holding temperatures.
    • - Record keeping. These include temperature records, employee records, and equipment maintenance and upkeep documentation.
    • - Health policy for restricting ill employees from the establishment.
    • - Specific goal-oriented plans, such as Risk Control Plans (RCPs) that are used to control specific and more incremental risk factors.

    In the next piece, we’ll dive further into these incremental risk factors and RCPs that can easily be employed in your restaurant or food establishment. Remember that while the world of online reviews can boost your consumer reputation, the food safety management suggestions from above are equally as important for the long-term livelihood of your business.

    Temperature@lert HACCP Food Safety Monitoring

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  • Major Dairy Products Distributor Averts $45,000 Loss in Four Months Using Cellular Temperature@lert Device


    Food safety and quality practices prompt proactive approach to milk products distribution.

    I recall my uncle owned a small milk delivery operation when I was very young.  We would get our milk in glass bottles with paper disc caps delivered into our galvanized, insulated milk box on the back porch.  In the New England winter this worked well as the box kept the milk from freezing until my mom could bring it into the house.  In the hot days of summer sometimes the milk warmed up slightly, very likely beyond what is now considered good practice.  While it was a good memory, we got to see the operation and his talking pet crow at times, there was one downside:  My dad would “steal” the cream that had separated to the top to put into his coffee.  In a way dad led the way to introducing low fat milk to my diet before it became a supermarket mainstay.

    Fast forward to today.  Food production, distribution and retail businesses are very aware of issues dealing with proper handling and storage of their products as major health related news headlines proliferate in recent years.  Food distribution and service personnel receive training to insure HACCP compliance in a variety of settings from warehouses, refrigerated trucks, shipping and receiving platforms, refrigerators and freezers, and food service counters and kitchens across the U.S. to help insure proper refrigeration of perishable products.

     Milk distribution in the 1950s and today Then and now: milk home delivery compared to modern milk packaging and refrigeration. Then and now: milk home delivery compared to modern milk packaging and refrigeration. Then and now: milk home delivery compared to modern milk packaging and refrigeration.

    Then and now: milk home delivery compared to modern milk packaging and refrigeration.

    (Link to Sources Left to Right: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4)

    These businesses know very well which products are most sensitive to temperatures outside of recommended limits.  Seafood comes to the top of the list of perishable products that are highly sensitive to improper storage temperatures, and special care is taken by seafood handlers to insure proper temperatures are maintained.  Dairy products are high on the list of products sensitive to temperature extremes.  So it was not surprising when a major dairy product distributor known for their high quality fresh milk and cream products wanted to insure they were safe during storage.

    Like many such operations where seasonal changes can make inventory levels rise or fall, the company employs portable and mobile refrigerated containers and trailers to store products when refrigerated warehouses become full.  These units are well equipped to handle the additional products and keep them in the recommended temperature range.  However, because these units are not typically integrated into the warehouse automated control system, insuring the refrigeration units are operational and doing their intended job becomes a challenge.  This is especially true during warm summer months when failure of the remote refrigeration unit or an open door can quickly lead to unwanted temperature rises that threaten or damage products.

        Milk distribution in the 1950s and today (Link to Sources Left to Right:  Milk distribution in the 1950s and today (Link to Sources Left to Right:  Milk distribution in the 1950s and today (Link to Sources Left to Right:

    Milk distribution in the 1950s and today (Link to Sources Left to Right: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3)

    Employing Temperature@lert’s patented cellular gateway and ZPoint wireless sensor modules, company management is able to monitor that proper operation and temperature levels are maintained in the remote storage units.  When problems occur that lead to an unwanted rise or fall in temperature, the device triggers an alert that results in email, text and phone messages being sent to operations personnel to take action.  Over the course of four months the ZPoint Cellular unit sent three separate alert messages when storage units exceeded customer defined levels.  And as temperatures continued to rise, an escalation set of messages was received by management to insure action was taken.

    Food Service & HACCP Temperature Monitoring

    During this period the ZPoint Cellular unit was able to help the company avoid damage to three refrigerated storage unit contents, saving an estimated $15,000 per unit for a grand total of $45,000 during a four month period.  Management and operations personnel are very pleased the device paid for itself in a matter of days.  Additionally, the ruggedized ZPoint temperature sensors have been integrated to the air brake locks on refrigerated truck storage units to help streamline operations and prevent wireless sensor nodes from inadvertently leaving the facility.

    In partnership with the dairy distributor, Temperature@lert is developing a low cost Android tablet to help manage wireless ZPoint sensor nodes and automatically facilitate check in and check out.

    For information about Temperature@lerts Cellular Edition and ZPoint sensor products check the company’s website at http://www.temperaturealert.com/Temperature-Alarm.aspx or contact the company at 1-800-524-3540.


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  • Cold Chain Technology: Report Forecast

    Recently, the IMARC group published their latest version of the "Global Healthcare Cold Chain Logistics Market Report & Forecast (2012-2017) for suppliers, distributors, pharmaceutical companies, and others involved in the cold chain sector. The abstract states:

     

    "Driven by a strong growth in the sales of temperature sensitive healthcare products, the demand for cold chain logistic services is currently experiencing explosive growth. IMARC Group, one of the world’s leading research and advisory firms, finds that the total size of the healthcare cold chain logistic services market is expected to expand from its current figures of US$ 6.7 billion to nearly US$ 10.7 billion by 2017."

    This report is focused specifically on three separate sectors of the cold chain technology and logistics market, with a particular focus on quantifying the current market conditions and an overall snapshot of the current services that are available. The first sector is defined as the quantification of the market for temperature sensitive health products (3 separate classes) and the current and future projections of growth relative to these products. 

    The second sector is defined as an in-depth explanation and understanding of the cold chain distribution process (relative to healthcare) and the established logistic requirements for a variety of healthcare products. Again, these are geared towards healthcare products and consumables that are sensitive to temperature changes during the cold chain process. The final sector focuses on quantifying the market for these logistic-based services, providing a lens into the future of devices and products that represent the "building blocks" of the cold chain. 


    This report drives the importance of temperature monitoring devices and other cold chain technologies, and how they can directly affect sensitive healthcare products that are distributed via the cold chain. Human lives can be at stake with many of these healthcare products, and as many of our biopharma and medical customers will attest, an accurate and robust temperature monitoring solution can indeed prevent the spread of tainted vaccines, healthcare products, and other items that can be negatively affected by temperature fluctuation (during transportation). IMARC Group expects the market for efficient storage and transportation services/products to see an increase in size, citing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4% for the next 4 years. Quoting from their press release, an IMARC analyst also notes:

     

    "The increasing trends in clinical trials outsourcing is creating additional steps in the overall supply chain of clinical trial materials (drugs, blood samples, tissue samples, urine samples, sputum samples, etc). In many cases contract research organizations and their sponsors may be present in two different countries, this is quite evident from the fact that the number of clinical trials in many Asian, Latin American and East European countries are increasing rapidly whereas the sponsors are based in the US and Western Europe. The large distance creates huge requirements for the efficient cold chain packaging, storage and transportation of clinical trial materials between the clinical trial sponsor and the contract research organization.”

     

    The last bit about distance gives a bit of insight into an overwhelming obstacle for cold chain manufacturers and distributors worldwide. Here at Temperature@lert, we've geared our cold chain monitoring products to account for long distances. Our Cellular Edition uses a GSM connection (via T-Mobile for example) to transmit readings on-the-go. The Cellular Edition can be easily outfitted for refrigeration trucks and other means of transportation in the cold chain. Further, our Sensor Cloud allows remote monitoring and alerting via email, SMS, or phone calls. All temperature sensors and units can be viewed, monitored, audited, and adjusted from the Sensor Cloud interface. Reports can then be extracted with the click of a button. With a combination of simple hardware and seamless software, cold chain distributors can then implement temperature sensors for sensitive healthcare products and in turn, continue to safeguard their assets and protect patients/customers. Cold chain technologies are becoming inseperable from the cold chain process, and we're ecstatic about the future of our products in the industry. 

    For more information on our Cellular Edition product and Sensor Cloud, please contact sales at 866-524-3540. 

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  • Is It Done Yet? Safe Temperatures That Keep the Germs Away

    In order to keep your perishable foods safe to eat, it needs to be maintained at certain temperatures throughout the entire cold chain to serving. This is necessary to keeping your food out of the danger zone as previously discussed. There are a variety of germs that can grow on your food when kept at improper temperatures. To ensure the safety of your diner, it is critical to consider what temperatures your hot cooked foods are reaching in order to kill off germs. By following the USDA list of recommended safe minimum internal temperatures for at least 15 seconds that would kill the bacteria:

    -Steak & Roast: 145°F

    -Hamburger & Ground Beef: 160°F

    -Veal: 145°F

    -Lamb: 145°F

    -Fish: 145°F

    -Pork: 160°F

    -Eggs: 160°F

    -Chicken Breasts: 165°F

    -Poultry: 165°F

    -Casseroles: 165°F

    By following such guidelines, you can kill germs/bacteria before they infect your diner. According to the CDC, "[estimated] that every year about 48 million people in the United States become ill from harmful bacteria in food; of these, about 3,000 die". The most common bacteria found in food services that are cause by improper temperatures are:

    -Botulism: found in canned and vacuum-packaged foods

    -Campylo-bacter: found in undercooked meat, poultry, shellfish, and raw milk

    -E. Coli: found in raw vegetables, unpasteurized fruit juice, and undercooked ground beef

    -Salmonella: found in undercooked chicken, raw vegetables and eggs

    There are other bacteria found in food services, such as: Hepatitis A, Listeria, Norovirus, Shigellosis, and Staph Infection. Those bacteria are caused by poor hygiene, cross-contamination, and improper food preparation. By having such food mishandling, the diner is doomed to at least an awful case of food poisoning if not worse. Not to mention the health violations that your establishment can incur from not following the best practices for food services and handling.

    Always remember to clean, separate, cook, and chill your foods to maintain the proper temperatures. It's not enough to just store your food at proper temperatures, it's crucial to cook your food to the proper temperatures too! Monitor your food temperatures at every step to avoid causing your diner harm.

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  • Is Your Refrigerator Running?

    Not sure? Then you probably should be monitoring it!

    All jokes aside, many neglect the importance of monitoring their refrigerator. Especially since many consider it to be a "set it and forget it" type of device. Without constant monitoring, one would be unaware if a piece of hardware (i.e. compressor, evaporator, condenser, expansion belt, pumps, fans, motor, etc.) failed, and as a result, the refrigerator is no longer functioning properly.

    The consequences of a failing cooling unit is not a pretty sight at all. From melted pools of ice cream, to spoiled food, to vaccine contamination, there are big issues when your cooling unit goes off and causes damage to the equipment, possibly losing years of compiled research.. Imagine walking into work and seeing just globs upon globs of spoiled food. This is a sight you should avert, not clean up.

    Although it's possible to plan for research dates, arrival of food products, among other cooling dates; it is not possible to plan for a malfunction. This can happen at any time without warning; therefore, temperature monitoring and alerting are necessary to deter any possibility or likelihood of malfunction. 

    Even with preventative measures, malfunctions can still occur. For example, Harvard's McLean Freezer's  containing brains for research on Autism and other neurological conditions. Their freezer had malfunctioned causing 150 brains to decay and decompose. A loss of this magnitude is not only financially damaging but has potentially set back research on neurological conditions for a decade. This type of research is truly priceless, and illustrates that the importance of proper storage, temperature monitoring, and temperature fluctuation extends well beyond financial cost. Unfortunately, the residual effects of lost data can be more damaging than the replacement of equipment and subsequent recovery.

    The CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimates that 17%-37% of vaccinations are improperly stored. However, members in the medical and pharmaceutical industry are not the only ones affected by malfunctioning monitors. As well, members of the food and beverage industry suffer from malfunctioning cooling equipment.

    Pipeline Restaurant's CEO Ben Wood decided to avert disaster rather than clean it up, “walk-in refrigerators fail more often than you’d think.  With Temperature@lert, we can correct the problem before it adversely impacts our business. Anyone who has ever experienced a refrigeration failure will agree that this is a no-brainer purchase. Now, the problem is fixed before it impacts our business.  I love these little devices!”

    For refrigeration needs, we suggest either our WIFI or CELL device. The CELL has a backup battery that can transmit even during a power loss. Our WIFI is also an excellent option if you currently have an implemented UPS backup power as well. Either device combined with our temperature sensor can help you monitor more efficiently and alert you to any problems. Specialized sensors and accessories are available as well, such as stainless steel tipped temperature probes for submerging in liquid, expanded range probes for cryogenic temperatures, and buffer vials (which prevents the dreaded "false alarm" from an open cooler door)

    Learn How to Monitor Your Refrigerator

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  • What Can You Monitor with Temperature@lert?



    When deciding on a Temperature@lert solution, generally you would have something in mind for the application prior to purchase.  Of course we have our standard industries that require the use of our products; however, there are many imaginative ways consumers have thought up that have opened a new world of monitoring possibilities.  

    Here are some of the innovative uses that have been implemented:

    • R/V pet monitoring 
    • HVAC systems
    • Warehouses
    • Wine storage
    • Ovens 
    • BBQ Smokers
    • Cryogenic Freezers
    • Food Trucks
    • Reefer Trucks
    • Kennels
    • Police K9 vehicles
    • Water Tanks 
    • Ponds
    • Farms/Barns
    • Chicken Coops
    • Portable bio-pharmaceutical cooling units
    • Steam Pipes
    • Incubators
    • Boiler rooms
    • Crops
    • Greenhouses
    • Explosives
    • Vacation homes
    • Candy factories
    • Vacant commercial property
    • Boiler rooms
    • Crawl spaces
    • Outdoor Cooling Units
    • Saunas
    • Hot tubs

    Of course these applications would not be possible without our smart sensors:

    • Temperature
    • Humidity
    • Flood
    • Expanded Range Temperature
    • Tank Level
    • Pressure
    • Leaf Wetness
    • Soil Moisture
    • Wind Direction
    • WInd Speed
    • Rainfall
    • CO2
    • O2
    • Dry Contact
    • Stainless Steel Temperature
    • Wine Bottle Temperature

    With the implementation of our smart sensors, the possibilities are endless in discovering solutions for your monitoring needs.  If you need a solution for your monitoring we're here to help, just send us a quick quote request: Quote Inquiry. Or if you have an interesting way you use your device, we'd love to hear about it, email info@temperaturealert.com.


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  • Proper Food Storage


    About 3.5 weeks ago, Jeff Rossen from the TODAY Show reported: "Some trucks carry unsafe food, authorities say".  This rang into our heads like the piezo on our WIFI devices, we are highly concerned with the proper storage of food whether during storage or transportation.  Rossen reported, "A hidden health hazard in some of the food you buy: Authorities say the trucks delivering that food to stores may be putting your family at risk." We are also concerned at the fact that much of this food is being carried to your local grocery stores and restaurants. Only way to avoid getting sick from spoiled food is proper storage, meaning that temperature monitoring is essential to ensuring the safety of your food and you. 

    Currently, up to 33% of perishable items are lost during transportation, thanks to logistical flaws and errors.  Not to mention the percentage of loss due to improper storage at the retail level.  In the food distribution industry, there are about $35 billion in reported losses annually of perishable foods.  With the rise of organic foods and such, it has become even more crucial for proper storage.  This is where Temperature@lertt steps in and saves your food.

    Temperature@lert's CELL and WIFI devices can monitor your foods at different points of the cold chain. By using either CELL or WIFI device from processing to transportation to retail, the food can be ensured of proper storage.  On the growing level, agriculturalists can use our SOLAR CELL to monitor crop growth without wasting water.  Then by using our CELL during transportation, the cargo of perishable food would be monitored without wasting diesel fuel and be able to alert the driver if there maybe a potential disaster.  Once it reaches retail level, the restaurateur or grocery store owner, can use the CELL or WIFI to monitor the storage of food before it's either cooked or sold to the consumer. 

    Not only would all members of the cold chain be able to protect their foods from spoilage but their consumers can enjoy their food safely without the worry of food-borne illness. To learn more about the food industry and storage, please visit our commercial refrigeration page or request a solution from us. 


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  • Tip: The 10 Worst Places for Your Device (Not Your Sensor)


    Often we are approached and asked for recommendations on where your Temperature@lert device can actually be placed. Of course, there are always new and unique ways to use your device via different sensors and enclosures. Being innovative is a trait Temperature@lert prides itself on so we always want to find a way to meet unique user needs. So here's some of the popular ones we've been asked about along with some solutions:

    (1) Chicken Coop
    Growers have to keep their chickens warm during cold days and nights. With factors such as the number of chickens, sunlight, ground heat, and other electrical devices to take into consideration, growers have a lot on their plate. However, chickens tend to peck everything they come into contact with, not to mention the feathers that gravitate towards electrical devices.

    *SOLUTION:
    WIFI or Cellular Device + Ruggedized Temperature Sensor + NEMA Enclosure = Prosperous, happy, healthy chickens

    (2) All Animal Barns
    Chickens are smaller than steer and other larger barn animals; therefore, one must take into account whether the animal could stomp our Temperature@lert device into itty bitty pieces.

    *SOLUTION:
    WIFI or Cellular Device + Ruggedized Temperature Sensor + NEMA Enclosure (Mounted on a Wall) = Well-maintained large barn animals

    (3) Sauna
    Relaxation is the key purpose of a sauna, but one must maintain it at the perfect temperature, in order to reach maximum relief. The device itself can't be put inside the sauna because at 120°F, lithium ion batteries stop functioning correctly, so keep it outside of your steamy sanctuary. It's hard to be relaxed when you're concerned about fluctuating temperatures!

    *SOLUTION:
    WIFI or Cellular Device + Stainless Steel Tip Temperature Sensor = Relaxed body & restful mind knowing your temperature is monitored

    (4) Freezer
    Of course our sensors can go in your freezer or fridge to monitor the temperature. We have standard, stainless steel tip, and extended range sensors for all your different applications. We can make custom lengths so your sensors will be able to reach your device. Just remember that the backup battery for your Cellular device cannot recharge below 23°F, so keep the device away from the cold.

    *SOLUTION:
    WIFI or Cellular Device placed outside of the freezer + Stainless Steel Tip Sensor ran inside the Freezer = No frozen device + Well-monitored frozen items

    (5) Refrigerator Truck
    Breaking or even interrupting the Cold Chain is the fear of many suppliers relying on refrigerated-trucks. In order to provide the right storage of everything ranging from agricultural produce to pharmaceuticals, the driver is responsible for properly monitoring the temperature. However, how does one monitor a refrigerated truck cabin without placing the device inside that refrigerated cabin?

    *SOLUTION:
    Cellular Device inside Driver's Cabin + Stainless Steel Tip Temperature Sensor ran inside Refrigerated Cabin = Happy trucking + Well monitored goods

    (6) Strapped to a BBQ Smoker
    Smoked meats, cheeses, and whiskey are a summer favorite for many. However, in order to make sure your foods and beverages are smoked properly, monitoring the temperature is essential to making that perfect smokey taste. Whether you're cold smoking, hot smoking, smoke roasting, or smoke baking you would need to monitor the temperature closely so that you can achieve your desired flavor.

    *SOLUTION:
    Cellular Device + NEMA Enclosure (to protect the device) + Expanded Range Temperature Sensor = Non-melted device nearby your Smoker of preference (Offset, UDS, Vertical Water, Propane, Smoke Box, or Commercial Smoke House) + Tasty smokey flavor achievement

    (7) Lightning
    As awesome as Sensor Cloud sounds, it does not monitor lightning. None of our products, virtual or physical, should be placed near lightning. Lightning is detrimental to the device and sensor. Especially if it's Cloud-to-Ground Lightning which often results in small fires.

    *SOLUTION:
    Keep your device & sensor far away from lightning strikes BUT a Pressure Sensor could help to predict inclement weather (compatible with our Cellular Device)

    (8) Open Fire (Bon Fires & Camp Fires)
    Whenever building a fire for enjoyment or other purposes, one should always visually monitor the fire to make sure that they can handle a fire of that magnitude. Whether you're building a Tipi, Lean-To, or Log Cabin fire your device can still melt or catch on fire if placed in too close of a proximity to the fire. If the flames are anything more than just visibly red (980°F) then your Temperature@lert Expanded Range Temperature Sensor would melt and probably catch on fire.

    *SOLUTION:
    Keep your device & sensor far away from fire AND visually monitor the fire

    (9) Incinerator (Thermal Treatments)
    As noted previously, your device can melt and burn. If you thought about the type of damage an open fire could do to your Temperature@lert device, imagine what a waste management thermal treatment plant's incinerator could do to it.

    *SOLUTION:
    Keep your device & sensor far away from fire AND keep yourself at a safe distance from the incinerator

    (10) Explosives Chamber
    It's someone's job to have to monitor explosives. Obviously in 99.9% of the cases where an explosion occurs, your device and sensor are destroyed or at least severely damaged. However, monitoring the temperature of such explosive materials is crucial in order for proper storage of such hazardous materials.

    *SOLUTION:
    Cellular Device + Certified Spark Proof Temperature Sensor = Effectively monitored explosives (however your device + sensor will not survive through a direct explosion) 

    Innovation is at the heart of Temperature@lert. As you can see, there are multiple uses for our devices in a number of different industries. We hope you continue to challenge us with new uses. Remember, if we don't have something on the website, don't hesitate to contact us for a recommendation (info@temperaturealert.com) because we're always here to help.

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