Specifying considerations for Thermometers

Thermometers are required in commercial foodservice operations for tracking temperatures over a period of time in accordance with HACCP guidelines. The main goal is to cook, hold and serve food at safe and proper temperatures.

Here, Ray Soucie, president of RSA Inc., a Portland, Ore.–based foodservice consultant, discusses what operators should consider when choosing thermometers.

  • Temperature monitoring requirements vary depending upon the demands of the operation. A small pizza place won’t need as many thermometers as a senior living community or school, where age-related risks come into play.
  • Many stages of temperature monitoring exist among production kitchens cooking batches of food, such as catering operations, central commissaries that ship hot meals, or blast chilling and storing food for a day or two. This includes hot, cold and rethermalized food censoring. Blast chillers and walk-ins typically have built-in thermometers.
  • Although most equipment includes built-in temperature monitoring devices, many health departments require separate shelf thermometers for added accuracy.
  • Foodservice operators quickly cooling hot food should use a handheld probe to make sure proper
    cooling temperatures are reached within 2½ hours.
  • Universal temperature tracking systems
    enable operators to check the entire kitchen while on-site or remotely. If temperatures go out of the prescribed range, alerts are received on a smartphone. This can protect an operation from losing thousands of dollars in inventory. These systems are suitable for hospitals that may want to track a variety of items, including reach-ins, holding cabinets, walk-ins and cooking equipment.
  • We also recommend operators have handheld probe thermometers to spot-check serving lines and salad bars.
  • Walk-ins located outside of a foodservice operation typically use a simple thermostat with a dial thermometer.
  • Purchase thermometers that are easy to use and accurate. A thermocouple with a simple probe that works quickly and accurately will be used more often than a less reliable type.
  • Operators need to be aware of options for different applications, such as waterproof thermometers.
  • Meat or probe thermometers are designed for more specific, tighter testing areas.
  • Combi ovens come with built-in probes that are placed inside food, which ensures temperatures are safe and accurate.


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