In 2009 we received a call from a fellow who identified himself as “Charlie of Charlie’s smokehouse in Wisconsin”. Naturally, the first thing that came to mind was meat! It turns out that Charlie is the proprietor of “Charlie’s Smokehouse” located in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan and they smoke fish – not sausage – freshly caught from the deep blue waters of the Lake.
Charlie, like many owners of food processing plants, is paid a visit periodically by the FDA – in Charlie’s case, the food safety division of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture. The Department inspects the facility and verifies that the company has their HAACP program in place and working. HAACP is an acronym for Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points and is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards from raw material production, procurement, and handling, to manufacturing, distribution, and consumption of the finished product. For more information on HAACP visit http://haccpalliance.org/alliance/haccpqa.html.
Years ago, the manufacturer or processor would check the temperature in the smokehouse and the cold storage facility with a bimetal thermometer and write the readings down on a piece of paper. Then along came circular or strip chart recorders. Recorders require some maintenance, including changing charts and pens daily or weekly. When Charlie called he was looking for a more “modern-day” solution so we recommended the Madgetech Quadtemp2000 – a multi-channel data logger – which accepts up to four thermocouples simultaneously, records temperatures for weeks at a time and can be downloaded to a computer and displayed in an excel spreadsheet or emailed to the appropriate government agency, customer, etc. Within days Charlie had his new automated HAACP compatible temperature logging system up and running.
No more daily trips to the smokehouse and cooler to manually record the temperatures or fiddling with charts – it’s still running perfectly today. I know because I recently spoke with Charlie to order my smoked fish for the holidays. It is really tasty and I highly recommend it. I save some to make fish dip. Yum! Go to Charlie’s website and see for yourself!