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  • Freight Forwarders: By Sea, Air, and Land

    Businesses looking to export or import goods have a multitude of logistics to consider and undertake. Having worked in the area of international supply chain management for an action-sports apparel and accessories company, I can say that monitoring such a vital and susceptible activity involves lengthy spreadsheets, numerous emails, and continual phone calls. Luckily, there is an entire industry dedicated to the movement of freight into and out of the United States: freight forwarding.

    Freight forwarders are the behind-the-curtain orchestrators of all things international trade. Export.gov provides a section dedicated to understanding the pivotal involvement of such firms, detailing their services as:

         • Advising on exporting costs including freight costs, port charges, consular fees, costs of special documentation, insurance costs and freight handling fees;

         • Preparing and filing required export documentation such as the bill of lading and routing appropriate documents to the seller, the buyer or a paying bank;

         • Advising on the most appropriate mode of cargo transport and making arrangements to pack and load the cargo;

         • Reserving the necessary cargo space on a vessel, aircraft, train, or truck.

         • Making arrangements with overseas customs brokers to ensure that the goods and documents comply with customs regulations.

    So, you may ask, who are these mysterious entities know as freight forwarders? Well, while they do perform their functions during all hours of the day in ports across the country and world, they don’t wear black pajamas to get things done. Rather, they are enormous multinational companies, some of which are household names, that excel at handling the logistics and balancing the dynamic variables of transporting cargo by sea, air, and land.

    In a 2013 article, Patrick Burnson listed the top twenty-five global freight forwarders by revenue and volume. While the top twelve are below, the remaining thirteen can be found here.

    Popular Shippers List

    Burnson’s piece also provided a glimpse into the impressive size of the freight forwarding industry overall. For instance, in 2012 sea shipments grew by 11.5% to $63.23 billion, and while air cargo dropped by 4.2% to $62.62 billion, the main reasons for the decline were overcapacity and rising costs like those of fuel. In short, air shipment revenue was a victim of too much demand and a fluctuation of those dynamic variables mentioned earlier.

    Of course, with the United States sharing borders with Canada and Mexico, exporting and importing by land, specifically by rail, has grown considerably since the start of the 21st century. A report by the Federal Railroad Administration stated that the value of goods transported by train from and to Mexico increased from $20.4 billion in 1999 to $64.5 billion in 2012. Over the same period, freight from Canada grew by 78% from $58 billion to $103 billion. While this method is dominated by large, heavy exports and imports like cars and coal, it is still a freight market that continues to expand, especially as the global economy strengthens.

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    Regardless of the mode of transport, freight forwarders must adjust their operations according to universal factors like capacity, rates, and transit times. Just because sea shipments rose and air cargo declined in 2012, doesn’t mean the trend will continue as competition among and within freight markets evolves alongside customer demand.

    In general, freight forwarding looks to grow by 6.8% before 2016. With this growth come the changing needs of companies relying on forwarders to move their goods in an expeditious and comprehensive manner. In another 2013 article, author Rob Knigge talked about the current concerns and developing demands of export and import customers and stated the following about using IT solutions to provide more clarity during transport:

    Supply chain visibility remains a top operational priority for large customers. Customers generally struggle to achieve a unified picture of their supply chains because of the legacy information systems designed to operate within a single company, not across a network of companies. Thus, the ability to share real-time information with key customers, suppliers and partners has become critical in the freight forwarding industry.

    Companies and their stakeholders need their supply chains monitored for harmful environmental conditions, as a prolonged negative situation could jeopardize the integrity of the assets being shipped. When not given the proper attention, irregular elements like humidity, temperature, and CO2 can destroy a shipment of imported products. Imagine how poorly a container of bananas would fare during an unexpected five-day, mid-July stint on the dock in Newark, New Jersey. Without any awareness or intervention, the value of those portable producers of potassium would evaporate in the cast iron cauldron heat of summer.

    Using this insight as both a closing place of thought and a point of transition for our next discussion on particular regulations pertaining to shipping and shipping containers, it’s important to note that the last piece of this series will address the issues raised here by offering a customizable, cloud-based IT solution that can be deployed by freight forwarders or their customers alike.




    Written by:

    Chris Monaco, Covert Content Creator

    As a man of many achievements, Chris Monaco is Temperature@lert’s newest Covert Content Creator. Hailing from Beverly, MA, Chris is armed with a trifecta of degrees, from a BFA (Maine at Farmington), to an MFA (Lesley University), all the way up to his most recent achievement; the coveted MBA from Suffolk University. Outside of his academic travels, Chris has added many international stamps to his passport, including: Seoul, Korea and Prague, Czech Republic, wherein Chris taught English as a Second Language to dozens of international students. His hobbies include writing, skiing, traveling, reading, and the world of politics. His personal claims to fame include two cross-country car trips through the U.S. and a summer’s worth of courageously guiding whitewater rafting trips. Chris’ ideal temperature is 112°F, the optimal temperature for a crisp shave.

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  • Importing and Exporting: A Container Conundrum


    Whether you believe it to be detrimental or beneficial, globalization continues to alter literal and figurative landscapes the world over; and many inherent characteristics of this sweeping transformation are readily apparent in everyday commerce. Though these activities have dramatically increased in frequency over the past thirty years, businesses often remark that the regulatory guidelines and support systems overseeing and accompanying such movements, respectively speaking, haven’t evolved as fast as necessary.

    Two actions that occur interminably in ports across the U.S. are the importation and exportation of goods via shipping containers. Regardless of whether they are transported by water, land, or air, there are governmental requirements to follow, risks to mitigate, and assets to protect. Major ports leave little room for error. The Port Newark Container Terminal handles over 600,000 containers annually with plans to double that number by 2030. Goods can be lost during transfer or seized by U.S. Customs if lapses in cargo oversight or regulatory compliance occur.

    Depending on which industry or industries a company operates within, the goods it imports and exports are subject to various and sometimes quite specific forms and levels of federal classification, regulation, and duties. The more accurate and responsive a firm is with information regarding a shipment, the faster exportation or importation can transpire; and similar to most other business processes, time equals money.


    Export.gov is a helpful and thorough resource that guides firms through the often-intricate affair of exportation. The U.S. State Department, which implements and manages export controls, lists the following as the crux of its efforts:

    The U.S. government controls exports of sensitive equipment, software and technology as a means to promote our national security interests and foreign policy objectives. Through our export control system, the U.S. government can effectively:

         • Provide for national security by limiting access to the most sensitive U.S. technology and weapons

         • Promote regional stability

         • Take into account human rights considerations

         • Prevent proliferation of weapons and technologies, including of weapons of mass destruction, to problem end-users and        supporters of international terrorism

         • Comply with international commitments, i.e. nonproliferation regimes and UN Security Council sanctions and UNSC        resolution 1540

    Regarding the inbound flow of containers and their contents, post 9/11 the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s mission shifted away from its former charge of trade protection and tariff collection to a more pressing primary objective: detecting, deterring, and preventing terrorists and their weapons from entering the United States. The full guide, written in 2003 and revised in 2006, is available to importers here and addresses topics like free trade, origin marking, product classification, and small-business importation.


    As you might have already deduced, April’s posts are dedicated to importing and exporting supply chain materials or goods. Moving beyond this broad overview, each of the next three weeks will take a closer look at specific industry regulations; large U.S. freight forwarders and the particular challenges of shipping by land, air, or sea; and implementing a comprehensive asset protection solution that tracks and monitors containers traveling long, sometimes unfavorable distances. It should be a productive and intriguing month, so if you haven’t already, bookmark us.


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    Written by:

    Chris Monaco, Covert Content Creator

    As a man of many achievements, Chris Monaco is Temperature@lert’s newest Covert Content Creator. Hailing from Beverly, MA, Chris is armed with a trifecta of degrees, from a BFA (Maine at Farmington), to an MFA (Lesley University), all the way up to his most recent achievement; the coveted MBA from Suffolk University. Outside of his academic travels, Chris has added many international stamps to his passport, including: Seoul, Korea and Prague, Czech Republic, wherein Chris taught English as a Second Language to dozens of international students. His hobbies include writing, skiing, traveling, reading, and the world of politics. His personal claims to fame include two cross-country car trips through the U.S. and a summer’s worth of courageously guiding whitewater rafting trips. Chris’ ideal temperature is 112°F, the optimal temperature for a crisp shave.

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  • The Evolution of U.S. Food Regulations & Compliance

    Previously we had discussed why high quality foods demand close monitoring of food temperatures during transportation and cooling practices, and how to meet the FDA recommendations for food temperature control. A brief review on the evolution of the FDA shows how food regulations in the U.S. have been developed over time and how it now demands food suppliers to conduct stricter monitoring to enhance food quality.

    At the beginning of 20th century, it was commonly believed that it was the consumers’ responsibility to inspect their food prior to consumption. This was before the government stepped in to intervene with food regulations.

    The early development of food regulations began at a relatively slow pace; mainly regulating food adulteration and deceptive commercials. Congress passed the original Food and Drugs Act in 1906 to prohibit interstate commerce in adulterated food and drug. The Meat Inspection Act was passed the same year as an action was brought against the “shocking disclosures of unsanitary conditions in meat-packaging plants.” 17 years later in response to the U.S. v. 95 Barrels Alleged Apple Cider Vinegar case, the Food and Drugs Act condemns “every statement, design, or device on a product’s label that may mislead or deceive, even if technically true.” Another six years passed until McNary-Mapes Amendment (1930) authorized the creation of FDA standards for the overall quality of canned food, excluding meat and dairy products.

    Since the 1950s, the food industry grew prosperously thanks to new food processing technology and advanced refrigeration equipment. Accordingly, it called for a more complete food regulation system. In 1952, groups of FDA consumer consultants were assigned to conduct field research in order to maintain close connections with customers as well as to ensure that the FDA truly reflects the needs and problems of the food market.

    Soon, amendments regulating food additives, color additives, fair packaging, and labeling were enforced. In 1969, FDA started to administer sanitation programs for perishable foods, food services, and interstate traveling facilities to prevent food borne illness and food poisoning. The responsibilities of food safety monitoring were transferred from other Public Health Service departments to the FDA.

    Temperature@lert Free Monitoring Guide on Food Refrigeration

    In recent decades, the U.S. food regulation system has become more developed with an emphasis shift from controlling food adulterations to enhancing food quality. There are now multiple compliances regulating product ingredients as well as manufacturing procedures, elevating the importance of temperature and humidity monitoring during food processing and storage.

    In 1990, the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act created a requirement for all packaged foods to mark its ingredients and health claims on their labels. In 2002, the current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) focused on the risk of public health during manufacturing procedures. In 2003, the FDA made a substantive change to the nutrition facts panel: trans fat content is now required to appear on nutrition panels. In that same year, the National Academy of Sciences announced the Scientific Criteria to Ensure Safe Food, buttressing the Hazardous Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) approach. In 2004, the Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act was passed to ensure proper labeling of foods that contain proteins that account for food allergies.

    A quick look at the evolution of the FDA suggests that in the future, it will take food suppliers more effort to meet the growing government regulations on food. In March, we will transition into a series on the FDA and drug monitoring processes.


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    References:

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Significant Dates in U.S. Food and Drug Law History”. http://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/whatwedo/history/milestones/ucm128305.htm



    Written by:

    Ivory Wu, Sharp Semantic Scribe

    Traveling from Beijing to Massachusetts, Ivory recently graduated with a BA from Wellesley College in Sociology and Economics. Scholastic Ivory has also studied at NYU Stern School of Business as well as MIT. She joins Temperature@lert as the Sharp Semantic Scribe, where she creates weekly blog posts and assists with marketing team projects. When Ivory is not working on her posts and her studies, she enjoys cooking and eating sweets, traveling and couch surfing (12 countries and counting), and fencing (She was the Women's Foil Champion in Beijing at 15!). For this active blogger, Ivory's favorite temperature is 72°F because it's the perfect temperature for outdoor jogging.

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  • Why Sweat the Details?


    Complying with mandatory Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) can be stressful no matter which vaccine process your biotech, pharmaceutical, or medical company undertakes, but that preoccupation can also be reduced. As previously noted, GMPs are regulated by the FDA and fluctuate between broad and narrow, required and recommended. With the Code of Federal Regulations acting as a compliance manual, firms are expected to validate that their processes and products are safe, effective, and protected.

    Two regulations of particular relevance to vaccines are 21 CFR Part 10.11 and Part 11. First conceived from the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) of the late 1980s, Part 10.11 provides requirements for vaccine labeling and breaks down the process review as follows:


         - Proposed labeling must be submitted for pre-approval

         - Package inserts must be included with submission

         - Inserts must have sufficient instructions, warnings, and precautionary information

         - Post-approval surveillance based on medical literature and mortality reports determines whether labeling must be updated


    Added in 1997 and refreshed in 2003, 21 CFR Part 11 specifically deals with the collection and storage of electronic records and signatures:

    The regulations in this part set forth the criteria under which the agency considers electronic records, electronic signatures, and handwritten signatures executed to electronic records to be trustworthy, reliable, and generally equivalent to paper records and handwritten signatures executed on paper.

    The FDA monitors these electronic entries by requiring that, among other things, the following major components be accessible and accountable:

         - Validation of temperature parameters

         - Auditable data and action logs

         - Record protection


    Failure to provide adequate and consistent electronic documentation may lead to a compliance violation, but such regulatory hassles are avoidable. Technological advances in wireless temperature monitoring have made CFR compliance less intensive than ever. Through device and system automation, you can set temperature boundaries and receive email, SMS, and phone alerts if they are breached. Additionally, all actions and records are time stamped, logged, and stored within a secure cloud service. Your company’s ability to adhere to GMP guidelines will be one less concern in your day, which is what truly matters.

    Like any regulatory standard, the demands of GMPs are numerous, and an infraction costly, but with a proprietary wireless monitoring device and complementary system, you don’t have to sweat the details.

    We’ll continue with pharmaceutical products and their respective CFRs next week.


    Free Guide for Vaccine Monitoring


    Full disclosure: This writer is employed by one such supplier of wireless temperature monitoring systems, Temperature@lert, that help its users to meet complaince.

    Temperature@lert’s ZPoint Cellular Edition ensures that important electronic records (temperature and time logs, alerts, and alert responses) are documented and retained for one year within our Sensor Cloud service. Should the environment you’re monitoring lose power, the ZPoint Cellular Edition’s internal backup battery will keep the device and sensors operational for several days, allowing alerts and measurements to continue without interference. For more information about Temperature@lert’s Cellular and Sensor Cloud offerings, visit our website at http://www.temperaturealert.com/ or call us at +1-866-524-3540.



    Temperature@lert Cellular Edition


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  • The Seven HACCP Principles: Retail and Food Service


    The institution of a HACCP plan for management of food safety has long been recognized as a proactive step towards the protection of consumers and businesses alike.  The creation of an alliance between the staff, the facilities, and useful technology is a fundamental part of the execution. While these directives are simple to describe and understand, proper implementation and execution (particularly in retail and food service) of a HACCP plan can be tricky.

    Management (focused around the concept of active managerial control) must strive to implement each of these principles as per the FDA’s direction, and further, must ensure that all important measures and obstacles are clearly communicated to all in-house personnel. The following is a brief of the FDA’s seven HACCP principles. Additional information and the full HACCP manual can be found here.


    (1) Perform the Hazard Analysis:
    • -Understand your personal risks; what hazards and safety procedures apply to you?
    • -Examine cooking, holding, and storage processes and procedures, food preparation methods as well.
    • -Understand the variety of control methods to inform employees and ensure safe practices, such as health policies and rules designed to keep sickened employees away from the kitchen.


    (2) Define the Critical Control Points (abbreviated as CCPs):
    • -Stay specific to essential control measures and the areas where practices must be implemented immediately.


    (3) Define Critical Limits:
    • -Includes temperature parameters and other limits that must be monitored at all times.
    • -Varies by food type and preparation stage
    • -Specifically include all perishable foods and clearly highlight their upper and lower limits.


    (4) Establish Monitoring Procedures for CCPs:
    • -Establish a schedule for monitoring and manual spot-checks of equipment, processes, and environmental factors.
    • -Consider using automated monitoring devices to remove the human from the equation.
    • -Always refer to the critical limits when monitoring to identify problems and anomalies.


    (5) Corrective Action Procedures:
    • -If critical limits are exceeded or not met, implement a plan to dissect the root of the problem, the next logical steps (discard, replace, etc), and any further actions that should be taken to prevent similar issues in the future.
    • -Create a clear line of communication and tie responsibility directly to specific employees. These employees must have proper corrective action training to prevent additional accidents or mishaps. If possible, create a document that outlines the responsibilities of each employee, specific to their individual responses and actions in the event of a problem.


    (6) Verification Procedures
    • -Create a routine wherein observations about equipment, employee habits, and other daily activities are monitored. Measure these observations against FDA best practices and the implemented HACCP plan. Adjust and revise as needed.


    (7) Record Keeping Systems:
    • -Whether in electronic or paper form, keep all important measurement information handy and easily accessible.
    • -The documentation of errors, changes, corrective actions, and all other data points can be important for an inspection, and can also be used for an internal audit of the in-house HACCP plan.
    Temperature@lert Compliance logging and alerting for food safety Guide


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  • FDA & HACCP Guidelines for Fish and Fishery Products

    HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) guidelines have received significant media coverage in the past few months. The coverage includes suggestions for implementation, calls for improvement and reexamination of existing plans, and the feared distribution of FDA-driven warning letters. In fact, The first letters of 2014 were just distributed to a seafood processor and dairy operator, citing “serious violations of the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulation and Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulation for foods during an inspection” .

    Along the lines of seafood, there are very specific (and sensitive) guidelines of a seafood-based HACCP plan. While the guidelines and lists can appear overwhelming to confront, they are critical for seafood distributors and handlers. Seafood is especially prone to bacterial infection, and is extremely sensitive to temperature control.  One of the more common toxins, Scombrotoxin, is usually found in the Scombridae fish family. This family includes many household favorites such as tuna, mackerel, and bonito. The FDA has listed monitoring guidelines for specifically preventing a scombroxtin outbreak in distributed refrigerated seafood, and the following list is taken directly from the FDA’s Fish and Fishery Products Hazards and Control Guidance (Fourth Edition) booklet.

    http://imgc.allpostersimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/49/4916/5ZW9G00Z/posters/close-up-of-fish-of-the-scombridae-family.jpg

     

    What to Monitor (refrigerated scombrotoxin-forming fish)

    -Internal temperature of fish during transport

    -Ambient temperature of the seafood storage in the transit vehicle

     

    How to Monitor (refrigerated scombrotoxin-forming fish)

    -Use of a continuous monitoring device that records temperature for both internal temperature and ambient air temperature of the transport vehicle.

    -If possible, use a modest sample size for internal product testing and maintain a comprehensive log of temperatures for historical reference

     

    Frequency

    -Depending on the transit time, this may vary. As a general FDA rule, a monitoring system should be able to provide a fairly granular view of temperature data. Suggested practices indicate that temperatures should be measured four (4) times per hour, or once every 15 minutes.

     

    Who Should Monitor

    -The automated device will perform the actual monitoring. However, employees should make a periodic visual inspection of the data to note any drastic temperature excursions,  anomalies or missing data, and the overall functionality of the device.

     

    For more information about the FDA’s regulations and HACCP guidelines for seafood, please visit http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/GuidanceRegulation/UCM251970.pdf.


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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.

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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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  • Vaccine Retrieval and Storage: Power Outages

    For most of us, a power outage is a sudden and temporary inconvenience that leaves us without our beloved gadgets and internet (that is, until the battery in your iPhone dies). But for vaccine storage, it's clear that a power outage brings larger and more troublesome obstacles. 

    It is virtually unavoidable to prevent all power failures. Storage faciilities must have back-up plans and back-up equipment to prepare for a power outage. Courtesy of the CDC's latest toolkit, here are a few procedures that you should be implementing in your power outage solution.

     

    1. Do not allow vaccines to remain in a nonfunctioning unit for an extended period of time, if you cannot forsee an immediate 'uptime' for the facility. 

    A homeowner might know this one instinctively; a power outage that lasts several hours can compromise the food in a home refrigerator/freezer. Though the food may be able to sustain an hour or two without cooling, it will eventually become a breeding ground for bacteria. Vaccines, on the other hand, are only effective when the temperature is kept within the required range. Avoid this by moving vaccines into emergency/secondary storage units as soon as possible after an outage.

    Generally, for attenuated vaccines (of which contain a weakened form of the actual virus), exposure to heat and light can compromise the contents. Be sure to move these vaccines to cooler zones immediately during a power outage. On the opposite side, inactivated vaccines are sensitive to freezing temperatures. However, it is difficult to determine whether inactived vaccines are frozen/affected by variable temperatures, and a simple "eye test" is never sufficient. Stay tuned for next weeks post on the differences between attenuated and inactivated vaccines.

     

     

    2. If you are certain that power will be restored before comprimising temperatures can settle in, continue to use caution and be safe, not sorry.

    Do NOT open a storage unit door until the power has been completely restored. Even if the outage is temporary, make sure to avoid exposing vaccines to uncontrolled and uncertain temperatures. Vaccine storage is really a calculated science, and the environment outside of the storage unit represents uncertainty, fluctuation, and variation (not helpful). Whereas on the inside, the temperature and climate are controlled, certain, and show very little fluctuation (ideal for vaccines). In an outage, keep vaccines in their proper dwelling, and be sure not to disturb the natural (and controlled) temperature within the units.

     

    3. Once power is restored:

     Check all refrigerators and freezers that have been affected by the loss of power. make sure to to mark storage units that have moved beyond their set thresholds (Refrigerator 2C-8C , Freezer -50C and -15C). Document the changes in temperature from the thresholds, and make sure to indicate how long vaccines were out of their required range. Such information is highly useful for disaster recovery plans, and can provide insight for future outages. If you ever have  suspicions about a vaccine(s) after a power outage, be sure to mark these with a "DO NOT USE" label and store them seperately. The key is to isolate the affected vaccines, and ensure that they're handled carefully after a power outage. With thorough planning, robust procedures, and attention to detail, affected vaccines can be recovered and bacterial growth can be averted afrer power outages.

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  • Essential Tech Check List: Building & Retrofitting Your Server Room

    Whether you're building a server room, adding on, or moving equipment there are many considerations to mull over. From the basics to alarm systems, it is important to ensure your server room is efficient and to protect your mission critical equipment. Previously in our blog, we have addressed the issues surrounding the microclimate present in your server room; however, it is critical to have an understanding of how a server room should be laid-out and managed. Use our check list as a guide for promoting security, efficiency, and productivity:

    Our Essential Tech Check List

    (1) Your Basics of Space

    • -Examine the layout of the space and how many units of space you have to work with.

    • -The walls (including ceiling) and doors should isolate the sounds that your equipment is creating.

    • -Check to see which way the door opens. There should also be no windows or other entry points other than the doors in the room.

    • -Consider the floor and whether your equipment will need raised flooring. Aim for anti-static floor finishing to prevent an unwanted static charge.

    • -Make sure there is enough clearance for racks and that they are stable enough to hold your equipment.

    • -Check for aisle clearance too, make sure your have enough room for exhaust to escape and not over-heat nearby equipment.

    • -Think about whether you need ladder racks, cabinets, shelves, patch panels, or rack mounts.

    • -Take into weight and size of each piece of equipment into consideration when designing the layout.


    (2) Keeping Your Cool

    • -Check and see what type if centralized cooling is available, whether an under the floor air distribution or an air duct system.

    • -If there is no centralized system available, get an air conditioner or cooling unit that is able to keep your equipment working productively while minimizing energy consumption and costs.

    • -If at all possible, fresh air vents are great and save on energy costs and consumption!

    • -Remove any and all radiators or other heating equipment currently present in the room. You don't need to add heat at all!

    • -Monitor your cooling system(s) to make sure it is working properly, especially when no one is there.

    • -Make sure your cooling units are not too close in proximity to your electrical equipment, think condensation and flooding. Do not place air conditioning units over your servers.

    • -Monitor the humidity to prevent static charge and electrical shorts.

    • -See if a chilled water system is in the budget or find something within the budget constraints to ensure that the hot air has somewhere to go.

     

    (3) Using Your Power

    • -Check to make sure that you have enough outlets to support power to all your equipment and not to overload them.

    • -Get backup power, preferably UPS to prevent data loss from power blinking or outages.

    • -Don't surpass the maximum electrical intensity per unit of space.

    • -Consider shut down capabilities of equipment (SNMP traps for example).

    • -Make sure your equipment is grounded.

    • -Monitor for power outages if you are not using back-up power systems.

    • -Monitor your back up power systems to make sure your mission critical equipment is not failing due to power loss.

     

    (4) Keeping Secure & Safe

    • -Have at least one phone present in the room in case of emergencies.

    • -Either check for a preexisting fire alarm system and install one if there isn't.

    • -Get a fire suppression system if there is not one there. Take into consideration of whether you will have a wet or dry suppression system and the effects that will have on your equipment. (Halon is a great choice!)

    • -Have reliable contacts to help resolve issues immediately, or form a system of escalation.

    • -Monitor for flooding, especially if this has happened historically in the past.

    • -Secure entrances/exits, this is expensive equipment with critical data, you don't want just anyone in there messing around!

     

    (5) Other Considerations

    • -Get the best cabling/wiring available within budget constraints. 

    • -Keep extra cabling/wiring around, because you never know when you may need it.

    • -Consider color coding wires/cables, a little more work now but definitely a time-saver in the future!

    • -Think about lighting: location & heat produced.

    • -If there is someone sharing the space, get them some earplugs! It's going to be loud in there with the equipment being used.

    • -Consider networking/phone lines being run in there and how much space you have left after that.

    • -Plan for future expansion or retrofitting (again).

    • -Leave the service loops in the ceilings.

    • -Label outlets.

    • -Get rid of dust, your equipment hates it!

    • -Check if you have a rodent/pest problem.

    • -Cover emergency shutoff switches so that it can't be accidentally triggered.

    • -Try to centralize the room in the building so that you can eliminate having to use more cabling/wiring than you need to.

    • -Meet OSHA and ASHRAE guidelines as well local codes.


    Is your server room or do you know of someone's server room that is not being monitored for temperature? Are you concerned with energy consumption, ability to monitor off-hours, and/or preventing mission critical equipment from failure? If you or know someone who is experiencing such issues, we want to hear form YOU!

    We will be giving away ONE FREE USB DEVICE per month to the server room with the most need! Valued at $129.99,Temperature@lert USB Edition is a low-cost, high-performance device that monitors the ambient temperature in your server room and alerts you via email when the temperature rises or falls outside your acceptable range.

    Please send a brief description, pictures, and/or videos to diane@temperaturealert.com for consideration! Our team will select one winner each month based on description and need, because we firmly believe that companies in every industry 


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