Temperature monitors help establish trust
By Melissa Wood, SeaFood Business assistant editor
30 October, 2012
Temperature monitoring is important as seafood moves along the supply chain, from the very beginning until the end. Mark Buckley, president of Digital Observer in Seattle, has been working to improve the quality of Bristol Bay’s wild salmon for 10 years. He was also a fisherman in Alaska for 20 years.
“One of the most important days I spent in my life was at Cooke Aquaculture,” says Buckley, referring to the Canadian farmed salmon operation’s efficient and streamlined procedures for killing, bleeding and bringing the fish to the plant. “Just watching this whole process and comparing that to what my life had been out at sea in Alaska and seeing how different it was in New Brunswick was a huge eye opener, and I realized that we had to get our act together in Alaska to compete with these guys.”
Buckley says current fishery management techniques and handling procedures have improved quality, which continues to get better each year. In those efforts, temperature has played a big yet easily fixable role.
“In the old days fishermen got paid more for chilled fish,” remembers Buckley. “What some would do was turn on the chiller when they came in to deliver. That’s kind of cute, but let’s face it, it doesn’t help the industry or the fishermen. Everybody needs to pull equally and so we have to hold fishermen accountable.”
To do this, Buckley recommends the HOBO by Onset Computer Corp. The cylindrical device can be dropped into fish holds where it logs the temperature in increments and generates a report that fishermen give to the processing plants along with their catch. “So it just has this chain of accountability that you know you’re being watched, you know you’re being measured, and if you can measure it, you can change it,” says Buckley.
Temperature-monitoring systems help those further down the supply chain keep tabs on temperature, too. DeltaTRAK’s ThermoTrace Time Temperature Indicator system includes labels and an alert service to track temperatures from the warehouse to the consumer. The Saf-T-Log by Thermoworks is a handheld thermometer that allows quick, paperless recording of temperatures that can be automatically downloaded when the device is connected to a PC. The Saf-T-Log also has water-resistant housing so it can be used safely within a commercial kitchen and other rugged environments.
Wherever seafood goes it needs to be kept cold, and that can include unusual places. ACR Systems in Surrey, British Columbia, has a variety of temperature monitoring systems for both portable and fixed installations that can be used in everything from large seafood plants to retail display cases. During the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver an ACR System was used to monitor walk-in coolers and freezers, preventing foodborne illnesses so that curling, but no hurling, took place on the ice.
Fisherman and direct marketer Bill Webber Jr. uses ACR’s Smart Button in his efforts to deliver the freshest Copper River salmon possible.
“There’s a lot of things I do in my operation above and beyond the industry model, and I put a lot of work and effort into it to keep this fish as pristine as possible,” says Webber, a 44-year fisherman and owner of Gulkana Seafoods Direct in Cordova, Alaska, selling fresh Copper River salmon to high-end restaurants in the Lower 48.
Click here to read the full story which ran in the October issue of SeaFood Business >
30 October, 2012