Thermometer Calibration : From Under the Hairnet
From Under the Hairnet
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Thermometer Calibration

by Greg Harbaugh on 02/26/14


One of the most important tools we use to monitor Food safety is a Thermometer. However, it is only useful if it is accurate. Proper cooking, cooling and holding  temperatures are a must to determine the true safety of our foods. Whether it is chicken coming out of the oven, cut watermelon on a salad bar, or Deli sandwiches in the case, a thermometer is the best tool to determine  product safety. Please review the steps below:


  • Make sure your thermometer is accurate & use it properly.  Here are a few simple rules to follow:


  1. Thermometers should be handled with care and stored properly to prevent damage. 

  2. Prevent cross contamination by cleaning & sanitizing before putting it into food product.  Wash, rinse, sanitize and air dry before and after each use.  An alcohol swab may be used to sanitize the thermometer.  After sanitizing, return the thermometer into its clean, plastic case or holder for storage.

  3. Calibrate the thermometer regularly (several times a week) and as needed.  As needed is defined as after exposure to extreme temperature changes or after the thermometer has been dropped.


  • Calibration Method (Bimetallic stem)


  1. Place a 50-50 mixture of ice and water in a cup, mix thoroughly so the temperature is uniform throughout the container.

  2. Insert the thermometer stem into the 50-50 mixture & wait for the needle to stabilize.

  3. The temperature should read 32F.

  4. If not at 32F, turn the hex nut under the head until the indicator reads 32F. 


    Note:  Digital and Laser thermometers cannot be calibrated, however they should still be verified as accurate. Use the above method for digital thermometers. For laser thermometers, point the laser at the ice/water slush and verify to be 32 degrees. Discard when no longer accurate.

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