Use of thermometers

All food businesses that store, transport, prepare, cook or sell potentially hazardous food must have a thermometer to measure the temperature of potentially hazardous food.

Potentially hazardous foods

Potentially hazardous foods include all of the following:

  • foods containing raw and cooked meats including casseroles, pies and sandwiches
  • dairy products and processed foods containing eggs, beans and nuts
  • seafood
  • processed fruits and salads such as prepared salads and ready to eat fruit packs
  • cooked rice and pasta.

Type of thermometer required

Food businesses must have a thermometer that:

  • has a probe that can be inserted into food
  • is accurate to +/- 1 degree Celsius.

Buying a thermometer

You can buy thermometers from companies that sell electronic testing equipment or catering equipment.

Most probe thermometers can be bought for about $20 to $50.

Using a thermometer to measure the temperature of food

You can measure the temperature of food accurately by:

  • making sure the thermometer is clean and dry
  • waiting until the temperature reading has stabilised before reading the temperature
  • measuring different parts of a food as the temperature may not be the same everywhere
  • cleaning and sanitising the thermometer after each use
  • waiting for the thermometer to return to room temperature between measurements
  • measuring the temperature of different foods in a refrigerator or display unit as there will be colder and hotter spots within the refrigerator or unit
  • measuring the approximate temperature of packaged chilled food by placing the length of the thermometer between two packages.

Cleaning and sanitising a thermometer

You should clean and sanitise the probe of a thermometer before each use by:

  • washing the probe with warm water and detergent
  • sanitising the probe in an appropriate way (alcohol swabs are often used)
  • rinsing the sanitiser away if necessary
  • allowing the probe to air dry or thoroughly drying it with a disposable towel.

Remember you can't tell the temperature of food by looking at it. You must use a thermometer.

For more information contact Environmental Health.

Last updated: 07 November 2017