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Can improving safety actually make things worse? In my last two blogs I picked on drivers of safe feeling cars who then drive more recklessly because they feel safe. Now I want to turn to temperature loggers.

Temperature loggers are a great idea. They are the perfect audit tool (because they don’t fabricate results like some staff), are more reliable (they actually do it), and they clearly demonstrate if a problem exists. The end result is that food is kept at the right temperature and so everything is good.

But I actually had Thermocrons going into a large catering company, but when they changed managers the project was canned. The argument was reasonably simple – if the staff are forced to use thermometers, they are aware of the temperature and temperature related issues, and they will do something about it.

Or looking at it from the opposite side, if the monitoring of temperature is fully automated, the staff won’t think about it, and if something does start to go wrong, they won’t notice or care.

Which, in light of the previous blogs, has some merit. If staff think that everything is fine, they won’t take as much care.

So who is right? Is it better to have an independent audit, or is it better to have staff that are checking temperature regularly?

I think the answer is “both”.

The staff need to be checking the temperature. They need to look at the thermometer when they walk into a fridge (especially if it is a big, obvious display). They need to be concerned about not leaving food out for too long. They need to be trained in food safety procedures. They need to be aware of the legal obligations presented in the standards.

And you need to have an independent audit that this is happening.

But do you present this as a “big brother is watching you” to scare them into performance, or go with the more positive “this proves we are doing things right” approach? I don’t know, but one extreme promotes bitterness and distrust, and the other extreme complacency.

Who said life was easy?