February 11, 2014

Remote Temperature Monitoring During Food Transportation

Written by SmartSense | Food Safety

As the food market becomes increasingly globalized, our neighborhood supermarkets are shelved with well-traveled products from every nook and cranny of the planet. Fresh Wellfleet oysters from Massachusetts are shipped to the finest restaurants in Las Vegas; cod from Norway is processed into filets in China and then shipped to Scandinavia; coffee beans travel across continents, from crops to cups, to meet the demands of the coffee connoisseurs who desire exotic and original tastes of nature. In the United States, the average distance that food travels to reach a consumer is 1,300 miles. Given this, our “movable feast” requires safe food transportation and it is critical to store the food within the temperature safe zone before consumption. Improper processes can and will lead to food spoilage and food poisoning.


To prevent economic loss and public health risk, the FDA Food Code requires all hot foods be maintained at 135°F or above and all cold food below 41°F to reduce bacteria growth. Food temperature should be monitored and recorded throughout the transportation process and immediate corrective action should be taken if the temperature falls out of the required safety zone. Below are some detailed requirements from the National Food Service Management Institute’s Food Safety Fact Sheet on food temperature during transportation.


Monitor transporting process:

  • Check the temperature of all food carriers with a calibrated thermometer before loading with food
  • Check cold carriers in the warmest part
  • Check hot carriers in the coolest part
  • Check food temperatures with a clean, sanitized and calibrated thermometer before placing it in the food carrier
  • Check food temperatures with a clean, sanitized and calibrated thermometer when it arrives at the satellite site
  • Record the temperatures and the times of when temperatures were checked


Take corrective action if appropriate holding temperature of the food is not met during transporting:

  • Continue heating or chilling food carrier if it is not at the appropriate temperature
  • Reheat food to 165°F for 15 seconds if the temperature is found to be below 135°F and the last temperature measurement was 135°F or higher and taken within the last 2 hours
  • Cool food to 41°F or below using a proper cooling procedures if internal temperature of cold food is greater than 41°F
  • Repair or reset equipment before returning the food to the unit if temperatures are not maintained
  • Discard food that has been held in the temperature danger zone of 41°F–135°F for more than 4 hours
  • Record corrective actions taken


Next week we will investigate on temperature monitoring during food cooling process in restaurants.




  1. Rosenthal, E. “Environmental Cost of Shipping Groceries Around the World”. New York Times. April 26, 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/26/business/worldbusiness/26food.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.
  2. National Food Service Management Institute, The University of Mississippi. “Food Safety Fact Sheet: Transporting Foods”. 2013. http://nfsmi-web01.nfsmi.olemiss.edu/documentlibraryfiles/PDF/20130806033715.pdf.
  3. Food Facts http://www.sustainablelafayette.org/?page_id=1015.
Topics: Food Safety

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