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Temperature Control

Potentially hazardous food (such as meat, poultry, eggs, milk or milk products and cooked rice) must be suitably controlled in accordance with the Food Safety Standards to prevent the rapid or progressive growth of harmful bacteria.

One way to prevent the growth of bacteria is by ensuring temperature is controlled. The Food Safety Standards require that temperature control be maintained for potentially hazardous foods in the following areas:
• Food receipt
• Food storage
• Food processing
• Food display and
• Food transportation

Rules regarding correct temperature control of potentially hazardous food:
• keep food steaming hot, above 60ºC; and
• keep food cold, below 5ºC;
• Or keep records that show that storing the food outside these temperatures will not adversely affect the microbiological safety of the food

It is a requirement that your business understands temperature control and ensures that potentially hazardous foods are kept out of the danger zone. Keeping food at the
correct temperature will not only help reduce the risk of causing illness, but it will also reduce food spoilage and maximise the shelf life of the food.

Temperature Measuring Devices

The Food Safety Standards require that a food business must, at food premises where potentially hazardous food is handled, have a temperature measuring device that:
i) Is readily accessible, and;
ii) Can accurately measure the temperature of potentially hazardous food to +/- 1ºC.

A temperature measuring device must be kept at the food premises. The temperature measuring device must be able to measure the temperature of the food - this means it must have a probe.

Cleaning & sanitising a thermometer

As the probe will be inserted into food, the probe must be correctly cleaned and sanitised before it is used and each time it is used to measure the temperature of a different food.

The probe of a thermometer can be cleaned and sanitised by using the following steps:
1. Washing the probe with warm water and detergent
2. Sanitising the probe in an appropriate way for your thermometer (alcoholic swabs are often used)
3. Rinsing the sanitiser away if necessary (refer to the instructions on the sanitiser.); and
4. Allowing the probe to air dry or thoroughly drying it with a disposable towel.

Using a thermometer to measure the temperature of food

You may find the following tips useful, when using your thermometer:
1. Make sure that the thermometer is clean and dry
2. Place the probe into the food and wait until the temperature reading has stabilised before reading the temperature
3. Measure different parts of a food as the temperature may not be the same, for example, if food is being cooled in a refrigerator. The top of the food may be cooler than the middle of the food
4. Clean and sanitise the thermometer after measuring the temperature of one food and before measuring the temperature of another food
5. If using the thermometer to measure hot and cold food, wait for the thermometer to return to room temperature between measurements
6. Measure the temperature of different food in a refrigerator or display unit as there will be warmer and cooler spots within the refrigerator or unit

Measure the temperature of packaged chilled food by placing the length of the thermometer between two packages - the temperature will be approximate but the package remains intact