Comark Experts: Q&A with Product Marketing Director Michael Hall

Food safety technology is taking a more prominent role in kitchens and food processing facilities now. Handheld temperature monitoring devices and wireless data logging solutions are perfectly positioned to help food service providers take quality products to market, with customer safety as their primary ingredient.

In this interview, we talk with Michael Hall, Director of Product Marketing at Comark Instruments, about the state of the temperature-monitoring industry, and the role Comark’s products are playing.

Q. What type of temperature monitoring functionality is most “in-demand” now – particularly among restaurants? 

A. It is an exciting time to be a part of the temperature monitoring industry. Let’s say we have a restaurant following a food safety process and HACCP Regulations. It may have three freezers, two fridges, and a walk-in cooler – all of which need to be monitored throughout the day. That means someone has to place a thermometer in each unit, and document the temperature three-to-six times daily in addition to collecting cooking temperatures.

Currently, that manual process involves keeping reports in a HACCP log book, which are similar to a school notebook. These log books typically only last a about week and their records must be held for two years, according to Regulations. That’s a lot of paper being stored.

The reason for these logs, of course, is if a customer contracts a food borne illness, the restaurant can point back to the batch of food and confirm what the temperatures were across critical control points like, the cooking process, who cooked the food and who documented the data. Unfortunately, sometimes employees forget to write down temperatures while cooking and will go back and state what the temperatures should have been, not what they actually were. That’s why the automatic, paperless HACCP recording wave is coming. The process will absolutely become electronic and automated industry-wide as more and more food service providers understand the need to remove human error from the regulatory reporting procedure.

Q. What are some of Comark’s solutions that help automate these manual processes?

A. Comark recently developed a new hand-held device, called the HACCP Touch or HT 100, which drives greater efficiencies in temperature collection and helps ensure key compliance-related tasks are quickly designated to their proper channels. Using the hand-held, temperatures are recorded at critical moments during the life of a food product, including at receiving, storage, preparation, cooking and handling, so restaurants no longer need to keep their paper mountains.

The HACCP Touch/HT 100 allows corrective-action commands to be programmed into the device, which provides swift guidance to staff when it determines a temperature has fallen outside of a specified range. This capability empowers a user to quickly take approved – and compliant – steps when a situation requires.

Comark’s RF500 solution captures the temperatures, humidity and door-event data within static environments like fridges, freezers and coolers. These points are vital, because if something goes wrong overnight, restaurants could lose thousands of pounds worth of product. With the RF500, alerts are sent out automatically to staff via text message or email should an issue arise – helping safeguard valuable food stock.

In fact, we have just announced a software upgrade for our RF500 solution with double the amount of notification capabilities. This further enhances the user experience, and provides the customer with new levels of monitoring capability and peace of mind.

Q. How did you come to be Comark’s Product Marketing Director?

A. I’ve been in the temperature measurement industry for more than 30 years. Prior to joining Comark, I worked for the Ministry of Defence serving in the thermometry field of high-accuracy temperature measurement and calibration devices. I’ve held increasing roles of responsibility within Comark, ranging from Head of Laboratory, Service Manager , Operations Manager and now product marketing director.