Hi there. We are a cracker manufacturer, looking into GFSI bench-marking in the near future. This forum has been a great resource for us. I have scrolled through the threads with topics on dealing with refrigerated and frozen items, but every plant is unique and some of the suggestions might not be applicable in our plant.
Our finished goods have a very low water activity (two-step baking). We occasionally receive refrigerated (e.g. cheese) and frozen items (e.g. lemon zest) and they are not in bulk, usually a skid or less. For the cheese ingredients, the receiving temp is sometimes above 4C (delivered in reefer truck), while the frozen items are usually above -18C (delivered in a regular truck along with other non-refrigerated ingredients, could be at -5C during summer). During receiving, receiver takes the temp. when the items are still in the trailer, and then the items are immediately transferred to our walk-in cooler or commercial freezer, and they are normally consumed within 3 weeks.
My question is, if the temp of the items are above the "general" standards i.e. -18C and below and 4C and below during delivery, should we still refuse them? I have checked the thermometer in the reefer truck and it has always been ~34F. Is it possible to prescribe a looser receiving temp. range e.g. -18C +/- 10C and 4C +/- 5C? I know that there may be a risk in microbial activity when the items are not delivered at proper temp. but how is this risk assessed when they are stored properly right away and will be consumed within a short period of time?
Thanks in advance!