Local company's sensors monitor food temps during shipping

Roland Beres

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Photo: Video by IdahoOnYourSide.com

Local company's sensors monitor food temps during shipping

By Roland Beres. CREATED Apr 24, 2014

Almost everyone knows the pain and suffering that comes from a nasty case of food poisoning.
The CDC estimates it hits one in six Americans every year and 3,000 people die from it.

Every day, food arrives at some grocery stores hotter or colder than it should. It's not only unsafe for you, but it can cost those stores hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost product.

But a Boise company has developed state- of- the- art technology that can ensure the food you eat stays a safe temperature, all the way from farm to fork. Eat food that's been out too long, and you could be in for a world of hurt.

"It's that sudden onset of feeling fine one minute," says Christine Myron of Central District Health, "and suddenly doubled over in pain and spending a lot of time in the bathroom."

All too often, the source of food poisoning is improper temperatures on the journey from the farm.
And the three main players, growers and shippers and grocers end up playing the blame game.

"It's always been a matter of finger pointing." says Doug Thurston, Vice President of Sales for Paksense.

And all the while the consumer pays the price in porcelain. But no more, thanks to a company called Paksense.

"We sell temperature recorders." says Thurston, "We have state of the art technology no one else has."
This silicon based sensor is manufactured in Nampa.

"It's all locally made," says Thurston. "It helps idaho and helps the United States. Our competitiors come from China."

These tiny tags are now tracking shipments in 75 countries around the world. Just place one on a load of fruit or meat, and it constantly registers the temperature of the produce itself, not the inside of the truck. It can catch problems in packing or tell if a trucker turned down his refrigeration to save money on a cross country trip.

"If they're shutting that unit to fuel saver mode, which is 50 to 55 degrees," said Thurston, "it can impact a couple days of shelf life once the product hits the store."

And that can mean a big loss when you're talking a load of meat worth a quarter million dollars.
For stores like Albertsons who put a premium on customer satisfaction, using Paksense is a no brainer.

"We wanted a level of asurance that produce and meat is as fresh as it can be and Paksense helps achieve that." says Albertsons representative Dennis Mccoy.

The tiny temperature sensors cost between $11 and $24. They're so effective, even NASA has used them.

"We've actually had them take recorders and had Nasa put them in helmets to measure the skin temperature of an astonauts head." says Thurston.

The applications are limitless. They can track anything that's temperature sensitive: Chemicals, paint, and perhaps most importantly, medicine.

"You can imagine this travelling with vials of insulin for example," said Thurston. "You can assure the customer that the quality, whether medications or food is going to be the proper temperature when it arrives and that's critical."

Business is so good for Paksense, it's had double digit growth every year since 2007.

"It's been nothing short of phenomenal." said Thurston.

The food safety modernization act is trying to change the FDA from a reactive to proactive agency by preventing foodborne illness before it occurs. Temperature monitoring could be a big part of that act. Just one more element that makes the future look very bright for Paksense.