How often should you record the temperature of a commercial fridge?

Recently we were asked:

When are you required (according to the food standards code of Australia and New Zealand) to take the temperature reading of a commercial Fridge, a commercial freezer and a Bain Marie that is set at 60 degrees and at what intervals e.g Every 2 hours or Twice every day ?

The simple answer is:

It depends

I would love to say it depends upon what is stored in the fridge, or the size of the fridge, or the type of facility but the truth is…

It depends 100% upon the person doing the inspection.

In some councils they don’t even ask for records. So the answer is “never”.

In many councils they just expect one or two a day. A good safe answer is “twice a day”.

As a business owner, however, this is a silly answer. It means that your staff have to find just two times each day when the fridge is within range. If they leave a fridge open they can close the door and come back 15 minutes later. That’s not peace of mind.

In the medical industry they used to record the minimum and maximum temperature once a day. What was great about this was the fact that the entire day was effectively monitored. If there was a spike in temperature then it was caught by the minimum or maximum. This meant that a single check, once a day, was able to confirm that everything was fine all day.

To ask staff to check the temperature twice a day and write down a single temperature is a token gesture. The standards are even written around the 2 hour / 4 hour rules. At the very least it should be every 2 hours.

A minimum/maximum thermometer should be the very least they are expected to use.

Of course I am going to recommend that they use a temperature logger. After all, it’s not the maximum temperature that is critical, but how long it has been above 5°. Only a temperature logger can provide an accurate portrayal of what has happened.