Any amateur cook knows the importance of timing. Just a minute can mean the difference between al dente or soggy, raw or rare, caramelized or burnt.
At home, your oven timer works just fine, but if you're churning out food by the truckload, things get more complicated. You're heating, cooling, sterilizing and packaging — all part of a process that leaves little room for error, and that includes food safety.
The FDA knows this, which is why it provides strict rules for food processing plants to follow. A system of synchronized clocks can help you stay compliant while keeping your operation running efficiently and prolifically.
The FDA provides food manufacturers with guidelines specifically related to timekeeping. In fact, timing is so important that the FDA issues time stamp requirements to ensure that the entire food production process is tracked.
For example, if a cooker goes down, that time needs to be documented immediately. The batch then needs to be segregated from the rest of the production line for extensive testing. And it all has to be documented with precision.
“It is extremely important for timestamps to be based on computer system clocks that are accurate and reliable,” an FDA guidance document states.
Time Stamping Every Single Can
When a portion of the food production process is interrupted in a modern facility, the internal clocks in the machinery mark the time of the disruption. Connecting those internal clocks to a master synchronized clock system ensures that time is recorded accurately.
One quality assurance manager explained how important time is in his facility: “We have batch processing with a coded time stamp on each can. After reviewing all records, the batch is either passed or held for investigation in the quality department. We verify that the wall clocks are synchronized to each other every week.”
Why Clocks Fall Off the Pace
There are a number of ways a clock, unattached to a synchronized network, can fall behind or speed ahead. It could be as simple as daylight saving time or human error in setting the time. If not that, standard quartz clocks will naturally fall off the pace if they aren't receiving an accurate time signal from a master clock.
In everyday life, being off by a couple minutes here or there usually isn't a big deal (outside of the kitchen), but in food processing, inaccurate clocks can mean inaccurate records or, worse than that, an unsafe product.
That's why large food plants make sure every record correlates with the time on a master clock connected to an official source, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology's servers.
How Wireless Clocks Help with FDA Compliance
A wireless clock system, like the ones sold by American Time, is a great way to keep your food manufacturing process running smoothly. With them, you can also control and synchronize other circuits within your facility, if needed. For example, both Faribault Foods and Gold'n Plump use our wireless clock systems.
So, if you're looking to stop delays, avoid error and keep your manufacturing running smoothly, look for a clock system that will always keep accurate time.