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Good Cold Chain Management is a Secret Ingredient for Freshness
and Quality at Legal Sea Foods
In 1968, the Berkowitz family opened its first seafood restaurant, right next to the family’s fish market
in Cambridge, MA. The fish was simply prepared - either broiled or fried - and served on paper plates
at communal picnic tables. Despite the low-key trappings, the food was second to none and word
spread quickly. Today, Legal Sea Foods remains a family-owned business and enjoys an
international reputation for serving only the freshest, best-quality fish and shellfish, which it processes
at its own state-of-the-art plant. Thus, the company’s credo remains “If it isn’t Fresh, it isn’t Legal!”
From the plain grilled finfish, fresh daily seasonal oysters, mammoth steamed lobsters, and awardwinning chowders to the decadent desserts and exceptional wine list, Legal Sea Foods sets the
standard for quality and freshness--and the process begins long before anything lands on a plate.
Subsequent to the FDA’s Seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Regulations
(21 CFR part 123) taking effect in 1997, Legal Sea Foods began working with Sensitech Inc. to
develop a store-level quality program focused on identifying temperature-related food safety hazards.
Using QuickCheck® – Sensitech’s hand-held unit used for documenting critical control points (CCPs)
during processing, cooling, storage and receiving – as part of their internal inspection program, all
30+ retail locations are required to monitor temperatures in several locations throughout the store:
receiving, prep, cold storage, hot holding, final cooking, and reheating. Items identified for monitoring
range from raw fish to chowders, sauces and vegetables to the prepared plated item.
“Using QuickCheck enables us to monitor the temperatures of dozens of items – both hot and cold –
to ensure only the highest quality is delivered to our customers,” said John Ciarametaro, Assistant
Director of Quality Assurance QCC and Restaurants at Legal Sea Foods. “But it’s the corrective
action feature built into QuickCheck that empowers every employee to make and document those
important discard decisions whenever necessary.”
Legal’s Quality Assurance team personally inspects every store at least once per month. Time and
temperature records collected by the retail staff are downloaded from QuickCheck. Records are
reviewed and evaluated to ensure that employees are compliant with Legal’s HACCP program, but
store-level quality was not nearly enough for Legal.
As an industry leader, Legal decided to adopt a proactive HACCP approach to cold chain
management throughout their entire supply chain. Beginning in their technically sophisticated
seafood processing center, Legal realized that relying on temperature alarms to indicate problems
was too late in the game. Rather, they needed to understand what processes and actions could lead
to alarm conditions. The ongoing monitoring and evaluation enables Quality Assurance to respond to
trends before they become problems.
For example, temperature management is a critical control point for seafood. The shelf life for fresh
crab is very narrow; temperatures must be kept between 32oF and 36oF throughout the
Sensitech Inc. • 800 Cummings Center • Suite 258X • Beverly, MA 01915-6197 • USA: 1-800-843-8367 • Int’l: +1-978-927-7033 • Fax: 978-921-2112
wholesale/retail distribution system to ensure maximum quality and freshness. Furthermore, at a
retail price of over $20 per pound for crabmeat, you can’t afford to make mistakes.
In support of Legal Sea Foods’ desire to monitor proactively, Sensitech introduced ColdStream™
Stationary Temperature Monitoring (STM). ColdStream STM is an RF-enabled application that
monitors ambient temperatures automatically, 24/7. Legal installed the application in multiple rooms
to continuously monitor temperature in highly sensitive areas such as storage for crabmeat, shellfish,
lobster and finfish; the wet-goods cooler; cold prep; production and refrigerated receiving. With
ColdStream STM, Legal ensures full compliance of its HACCP program, including permanent record
keeping for audit support with date, time, and temperature readings at every location every five
minutes. Legal receives a daily report outlining every location across a seven day window.
According to John Olson, Legal Sea Foods vice president of QCC Operations, “We now have the
luxury of knowing every time any of our areas are out of spec – there is no guesswork involved. If a
prep cook leaves the freezer open, we know it. If the air conditioning system is running too cold, we
know it. We even know when the cleaners are doing their job, since we can see the temperature
spikes indicating that the doors are left open. We can eliminate the manual clipboard checks and
have accurate records to meet our HACCP needs – these two things alone save us time and money.”
The final link in Legal’s comprehensive cold chain management program was the “last mile” or
distribution-center-to-store segment. All Legal Sea Foods’ trucks are equipped with GPS systems to
track daily store deliveries. However, Legal did not have visibility into the conditions within each truck
and were not aware of factors that could possibly impact the quality of the seafood, which they had
worked to hard to maintain. Reacting to bad deliveries is not the way to deliver quality.
Sensitech Inc. • 800 Cummings Center • Suite 258X • Beverly, MA 01915-6197 • USA: 1-800-843-8367 • Int’l: +1-978-927-7033 • Fax: 978-921-2112
ColdStream Closed Loop (CL) – another Sensitech RF-enabled application - was installed on every
vehicle to record temperatures every hour. Adding this new functionality was easy since it uses the
infrastructure already in place to support ColdStream STM. Legal’s quality team receives daily
reports via e-mail, with a temperature history by vehicle over the past 48 hours. Having insight into
events is good process control and provides the team with information it needs to enable it to lower
operating and maintenance costs.
Legal Sea Foods sets the standard for quality and freshness – they truly walk the walk at every step
of their supply chain. Partnering with Sensitech for more than 10 years has enabled Legal to adopt a
variety of solutions that fit their way of doing business, not the other way around.
“There is no question that using better diagnostic tools has netted us a sustainable return on
investment (ROI) at every step of the supply chain,” says Ciarametaro. “We only select partners who
can demonstrate high quality in their products, services and people. Sensitech gives us confidence in
our cold chain management practices, and that’s just what I need to sleep at night.”
About Legal Sea Foods, Inc.
Legal Sea Foods Inc. has set the standard for quality and freshness in the seafood and restaurant
business. With more than 30 restaurants up and down the East Coast, Legal Sea Foods has earned
scores of honors and awards and proudly carries its well-earned reputation as the nation’s finest
seafood restaurant. For more information about Legal Sea Foods and its locations, please visit
About Sensitech Inc.
As the world’s leading provider of cold chain visibility solutions, Sensitech enables global leaders in
the food and pharmaceutical industries to track and monitor assets across the supply chain to protect
the integrity of temperature-sensitive products. Sensitech is an ISO 9001:2000 company and is based
in Beverly, Mass., with offices in Amsterdam, Calgary, Melbourne, Redmond and Santiago, as well as
service and distribution offices around the world. Sensitech is a unit of Carrier Corp. For additional
information, please call +1-978-927-7033 or visit
Sensitech Inc. • 800 Cummings Center • Suite 258X • Beverly, MA 01915-6197 • USA: 1-800-843-8367 • Int’l: +1-978-927-7033 • Fax: 978-921-2112
About Carrier Corp.
Headquartered in Farmington, Conn., Carrier Corp. is the world’s largest provider of heating, airconditioning and refrigeration solutions with operations in more than 170 countries. Carrier is part of
United Technologies Corp., a Hartford, Connecticut-based provider of products and services to the
aerospace and building systems industries worldwide. Visit for more information.
Sensitech Inc. • 800 Cummings Center • Suite 258X • Beverly, MA 01915-6197 • USA: 1-800-843-8367 • Int’l: +1-978-927-7033 • Fax: 978-921-2112