If you're a food business that handles potentially hazardous food, it's important to use a thermometer to check your food is at the right temperature to be sure it is safe to eat.
What are the requirements?
Under Standard 3.2.2 - Food Safety Practices and General Requirements, food businesses that handle potentially hazardous food need to have an accurate and accessible thermometer. This means:
- there is at least one thermometer somewhere easy to get to (e.g. in an unlocked drawer in the kitchen)
- the thermometer is accurate to within 1°C.
Which thermometer is best?
- A digital probe thermometer is usually best for measuring food temperatures. They are inexpensive and are available from catering and kitchen supply shops.
- Infrared 'gun' thermometers are useful for quick checks and for packaged food - but only measure the surface temperature.
- Temperature gauges on equipment like bain maries and refrigerators measure the equipment's temperature - but to be sure of the actual food's temperature you should use a probe thermometer.
Check your food's temperature
- Food that is received, stored, displayed or transported should be 5°C or colder, or 60°C or hotter, unless you can show another temperature is safe.
- Cooling and reheating food need to be done to certain temperatures within time limits (see our InfoBite on Cooling and reheating).
Getting it right
- Clean and sanitise probe thermometers before and after use - use warm soapy water and an alcohol wipe.
- Place the probe into the thickest part of the food and wait until the temperature stabilises before reading it.
- Measure packaged chilled food by placing the thermometer length-wise along or between packages.
- Measure the temperature of different foods in your refrigerator or display unit to check if there are spots where food is not at the right temperature.
- Don't rely only on fixed temperature gauges on equipment - measure the actual food with a probe thermometer to be sure.
- Keep your thermometer in good condition - have it calibrated regularly, replace flat batteries, repair or replace it if it breaks.