Temperature control forms a critical part of kitchen hygiene and food safety and forms part of the food safety pillars.
Cooling, heating and displaying foods at safe temperatures requires that we firstly understand what the safe temperature range is, and that we have some way of measuring the temperature of food.
Hygiene and food safety systems require that the core temperature of food is either heated to a safe temperature or that food is kept cool within a safe range.
The only way to measure this, is by using an accurate digital probe thermometer.
There are a variety of options when it comes to thermometers for the kitchen that vary in price, accuracy and durability.
Often the deciding factor is budget and convincing an owner, GM or manager to purchase on durability can be an issue.
Let’s consider the importance of a thermometer in the kitchen:
A thermometer needs to be used in a number of critical areas in food safety
Hot water temperatures
Wash and rinse basin temperatures
Food display temperatures
Cooking oil temperatures
A thermometer is probably the most important food safety tool you can own in a kitchen, and must be able to measure a broad temperature range. From the above list , that’s likely to be from -30 to 180 degrees C (-22 to 356 Degrees F).
What are the criteria for choosing the right thermometer?
Temperature range (R)
Speed of reading (S)
Overall Rating (O)
Below is a list of available thermometers that are used in the kitchen:
Scale of rating is 1 – 5 (1 is worst and 5 is best)
An infrared laser gun thermometer
Flip out probe thermometer
Pocket size probe thermometer
The laser gun, is not recommended for kitchen use for the simple reason, that it does not measure the core temperature of food, and also does not measure the air temperature of fridges and freezers. This thermometer is only useful for general temperature checks, and will only tell a drastic change in temperature and is only really useful for bulk receiving. We have included this type of thermometer in order to point out its limitations in use because this is generally a popular purchase when the budget is available.
The probe thermometer range is the most recommended type of thermometer, because it is able to measure the core temperature of food, air and water temperatures, without interference from the surface readings, which affect the laser guns. Once the probe is suitably sanitized food can be measured. This particular thermometer is the middle of the road in cost and functionality. The flip out option causes a lack of durability, and we have often found that the probe bends and breaks off.
The pocket size thermometer is useful when you are looking to buy one for each chef / manager, inexpensive but you get what you pay for. Because of its small size, these tend to break easily and is often a nightmare to source replacement batteries. They generally have a lower temperature range, but because of the probe needle, can measure core, air and water.
The most expensive of the thermometers, and in our opinion not really worth the cost. Although it is a fantastic thermometer, the durability in the kitchen is a problem. The flip out probe bends easily and tends to pull off. Its quite a large thermometer, so it useful for measuring temperatures on the grill and cookers. Don't leave these in a hot box!
Probably one of the best thermometers designed for the kitchen. Its durability far exceeds any other, its accuracy is within 0,5 Degree C (1 Degree F) and can measure a high temperature range, from freezers to cooking oil. It is a bit pricey and you won't be buying ten of these. But is definitely worth the price.
One of the most common thermometers you will find in the kitchen, for no other reason than price. Again this is a scenario of "you get what you pay for". These thermometers are one of the worst designed, low on accuracy, durability and capability. Expect to buy a new one every month. These thermometers can't be used for freezer temperatures, and you'll need one for fridges and one for the hot range. They take around 5 minutes to get a stable reading. Yet this thermometer is a best seller on amazon. Which undoubtedly suggests a need for better understanding in the importance of the thermometer in the kitchen.
In our opinion the Testo 106 thermometer is undoubtedly the winner. The top of its class in all ratings, but is expensive and completely worth the cost. We would recommend getting at least 2 for the kitchen.