Food safety experts across the globe are taking action in response to an astounding surge in Campylobacter – a bacterium that can infect food and, when consumed by humans, cause fever, nausea, vomiting and a slew of other symptoms. Recent analyses in the United Kingdom and United States are particularly grim.
More than 70 percent of chickens tested in the UK between February 2014 and February 2015 were contaminated with Campylobacter, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA). In the United States, Campylobacter infections in humans have increased more than 13 percent.
With the UK’s Campylobacter infection rates being compared to the salmonella outbreak of the 1980s, government officials have charged poultry suppliers to make immediate improvements.
Enhancing food-temperature safety strategies can be a key component to driving down infections that can fester and grow when food is processed, transported, stored and prepared in improper conditions.
By storing raw chicken at only recommended temperatures, it is possible to prevent existing bacteria from multiplying. And fully cooking poultry and other meats to recommended temperatures is the only method to destroy any bacteria that remains present.
Fortunately, temperature-monitoring technologies are smarter than ever before. A new generation of handheld thermometers and data loggers has risen to give higher levels of mobility in checking food temperatures at critical points across the supply chain. These instruments even bolster compliance records by recording corrective action that is taken when temperatures are found to be outside of safe zones.
And continuous temperature-monitoring solutions have automated formerly manual tasks and given way to 24/7/365 control. When a cooler full of poultry, for example, rises above safe temperatures, a wireless monitoring system alerts staff so immediate steps can be taken to protect the quality and integrity of the inventory.
With more tools available than ever before, the cumulative food industry – from suppliers to transporters to preparers – has more robust technology and improved tools to protect consumers from foodborne illnesses. Integrating these resources into a strategic response will help achieve, and potentially even supersede, higher safety standards.