[ October 8–11, 2019    McCormick Place    Chicago, IL USA ]

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Streaky bacon at the storage cooler. Close-up shot.

Accurate process data is critical for food safety and quality, as well as regulatory compliance. But data on its own isn’t enough — you also need a system to monitor the data and, most importantly, alert you if anything goes wrong. To learn more about the role of data loggers in validating cooking processes and ensuring food safety and quality, we interviewed BJ Nault, a technical sales representative at MadgeTech, Inc.  

MadgeTech has been manufacturing data loggers for over 20 years, producing devices that measure and record everything from temperature and humidity to pressure and pH. The company started in president Norm Carlson’s garage, and today, MadgeTech sells its products in more than 100 countries worldwide.

Quality and compliance across the cold chain

A data logger is an electronic device that collects and stores time-stamped environmental information. Food processors primarily use these devices to read, monitor, and record temperature and humidity during processes like cooking and chilling.

This information is essential for ensuring product quality. For example, many meat and poultry processors use data loggers to map their ovens to ensure products are cooked consistently across the belt.

It’s also helpful for implementing HACCP plans and preparing for food safety inspections. “Data loggers and monitoring systems have become synonymous with HACCP compliance and process verification,” Nault says. “These devices read and record temperature and humidity and provide a lot of the data and documentation they need.”

But the data chain doesn’t begin with cooking and end with chilling. Preventing safety problems requires maintaining the desired temperature across the entire cold chain, from receiving and processing to packaging and shipping.

“Our products are very versatile,” Nault says. “We make products that can help with storage. We make products that can read and record temperature while they're shipping. We make products that can resist extreme temperatures, so they can be used during the cooking or the freezing process. Our devices provide processors with the data they need to make sure they don’t have any weak points in their cold chain process.”

Real-time reporting with wireless tech

To avoid recalls, processors need to know as soon as possible if something goes wrong. Wireless solutions provide real-time monitoring to enable fast response times.

MadgeTech’s wireless systems use transceivers to collect and relay information from multiple data loggers. The transceivers are connected to a centralized PC, where plant employees can use MadgeTech’s software to monitor the data as it’s collected. “A nice part of our solution,” Nault says, “is that we can give customers all that data right as it's going through their process.”

For example, MadgeTech’s most popular product for the food industry is the RFOT Wireless Meat Temperature Data Logger. “We have a lot of products, but the RFOT is the one we talk about daily with customers. It can work in real time with our software,” Nault adds, “and customers can watch the entire process on their computer.” They can also create flags to alert, via text or email, if the temperature becomes too high or too low.

In the next few months, MadgeTech will release a new version of the RFOT, which includes upgrades to the casing and increased wireless signal stability.  

Hot? Cold? Submersible? No problem!  

The RFOT can withstand temperatures from -4°F to 212°F. But this range isn’t sufficient for all processing applications. That’s why MadgeTech developed the stainless steel HiTemp140, a data logger that can be used in temperatures from -40ºF to 284°F, making it ideal for monitoring not just cooking and chilling, but also high-temperature sanitation processes.

The HiTemp140 is also useful for oven mapping, especially for large ovens. Nault explains: “Processors can put a logger on the right side, one in the middle, and one on the left side, and then can run the loggers through their ovens to make sure the temperature’s consistent on all sides.”

Then there’s the MicroTemp data logger, measuring in at just 2.6 x 0.7 inches. “We have a lot of beverage companies that reach out to us for the MicroTemp logger,” Nault says. “It’s a submersible data logger that can easily fit into a beverage bottle to read and record temperature during pasteurization.”

Nault’s first experience at PROCESS EXPO was when MadgeTech exhibited in 2017. He found it valuable for connecting with current customers, as well as building the pipeline of new customers. “PROCESS EXPO was great,” Nault says. “I'm glad we're going back.”

You can learn more about MadgeTech’s data loggers, and see the new version of the RFOT Wireless Meat Temperature Data Logger, at Booth #3513 at PROCESS EXPO.