Correct calibration of your temperature equipment is vital to ensuring food safety is maintained.
It is one thing to diligently check & record temperatures, but if the thermometer or data logger that you are using to check, is itself out of calibration, then the temperatures that you are recording may be totally incorrect & at worst they may be detrimental to food safety, meaning the food may make a consumer ill.
Correct calibration means ensuring that the thermometer or data logger that you are using to take readings, is itself, reading correctly. If the thermometer or data logger is out of calibration (ie: not reading correctly), then any reading that you take will also be incorrect. For instance, if your thermometer is out of calibration by 2°C & you were taking the temperature of some ham & the temperature on your thermometer showed as 4.0°C, the actual temperature of the ham could really be more than 6°C – making the food unsafe to consume. If the calibration was under the correct temperature, the correct temperature of the ham may be less than 2.0°C which could impact the quality of the ham when you store it.
Ensuring that all of your thermometers are reading correctly, or calibrated correctly is vital to making sure that your food is actually received, stored, displayed & dispatched at correct food safe temperatures.
Checking calibration can be done easily on site by staff. There are several ways to complete this.
The easiest & simplest way is to have a Calibration Kit. This usually consists of an accurate thermometer with a current calibration certificate & a black body target. Firstly, you need to have the thermometer you want to check placed next to the Calibration Kit and leave both at ambient temperature (say on an office desk) for 15 minutes, so that they can both acclimatise. If you’re using a probe thermometer, activate the thermometer & place the probe into the hole in the black body, activate the control thermometer in the Calibration Kit & make sure they are within +/- 1°C of each other. Record the readings. If using an infra-red thermometer, activate the control thermometer then place the head of the infra-red thermometer over the top of the black body & activate it & make sure they are within +/- 1°C of each other.
Always note the reading and the date the calibration check was done as this forms part of your back-up HACCP records and can be very valuable in proving that you are diligent with your HACCP records.
If you don’t have a Calibration Kit, you can still check that your thermometers etc are reading correctly & within calibration by using either an ice-slurry (when the unit is predominantly used for cold temperatures) or boiling water (when the thermometer is predominantly used for hot / cooking temperatures).
The details of how to make an ice slurry & how to check your thermometers may be found in a free download page from our web site under the Calibration tab. This is a full procedure on how to complete calibration checks on equipment. This page may also form part of your HACCP system should you need it.
We also have free You Tube videos on our web site showing how to make & use an ice slurry.
All of these are free for you to use so that we can all make sure that we maintain food safety.
I am also available to speak to on our free-call phone number should you have any queries on how or when to check the calibration of your thermometers.
GENERAL FOOD SAFETY:
- Make sure your staff are aware of food safety rules as this is what will protect your business
- & as I always say ... Always record the temperatures – there’s no point to taking it if you’re not going to record it. These are back-up records for your food safety system & can be useful in court.