Comark Thermometers Buyers' Guide

Improve Food Safety with Comark Thermometers

When it comes to food safety, it's important to keep a close eye on the temperature of the food you store and cook. Food that lingers too long in the danger zone - the range of temperatures between 41 and 140 degrees F - allows bacteria to multiply, quickly reaching unsafe numbers. Here you'll learn about the available Comark thermometers that can help you keep food safe in your kitchen.

Cooking Thermometers

Cooking thermometers allow you to monitor the temperature of food products as they cook to ensure they reach temperatures high enough to kill any bacteria that may be present. They also can help you ensure that food being thawed or cooled reaches the necessary temperatures within the time constraints imposed by your local regulatory authorities. Below are some types of cooking thermometers available from Comark.

Pocket thermometers all feature a long, thin probe that must be inserted into the food it is measuring the temperature of, but how that temperature is displayed varies. Dial displays have a round dial mounted to the top of the metal probe, with an indicator that rotates to point at the current temperature. Digital models instead have a round or oval piece on top of the probe that displays the temperature on a screen. Many of these come with a plastic sheath for the probe to make it safe to carry in a pocket. Another option available on some of the dial models is an espresso clip, which allows it to clip to a container to measure the temperature of espresso, steamed milk, or hot water for drinks.

Probe thermometers usually come in two parts: the handheld display and control, and the probe. There are two types available, thermocouples and thermistors. Thermocouples give the fastest temperature readout, normally in 2 to 5 seconds. They can also be calibrated, leading to more accurate readings over time, but they are sometimes more expensive. Thermistors take about ten seconds to get a temperature reading. While they are sometimes more economical, not all models can be field-calibrated, which means you will have to purchase a new one or send your old one in for service if it ever loses its accuracy.1

Thermometer probes are sometimes sold separately, enabling you to find the probe shape that will work best for your needs. Probes come in different thicknesses and lengths; some are made to penetrate food, while others are intended to take surface readings. There are also specialty probes, such as corkscrew probes for frozen foods and weighted grill probes to check grill or griddle surface temperatures.

Infrared thermometers, also called temperature guns, are another useful option for commercial kitchens. This type of thermometer uses infrared light to measure the temperature of what it is aimed at without needing to physically touch the item. This type of thermometer can only measure surface temperature, so it cannot be used to tell if meat is safe to serve. However, it is very useful for quickly measuring the temperature of grill grates or griddle plates, hot oil, or liquid that is not yet boiling, as the thermometer will in some cases measure the temperature of the vapor rather than the liquid.

Refrigerator Thermometers

Storing refrigerated and frozen food at the proper temperature is just as important as cooking it thoroughly. Most commercial refrigeration units will come with built-in thermometers, but it is always a good idea to have a separate thermometer in each refrigerator and freezer to ensure accurate readings. There are several types of refrigerator thermometers to choose from, so you can find the perfect fit for your food safety needs.

Dial thermometers use, as their name suggests, a dial to display the temperature. Some of these are available in an easy-read format with large or bold numbers, and some have color-coded zones so that you can easily see at a glance whether your refrigerator or freezer is holding a safe temperature. These thermometers are made to hang, stand, or adhere to the unit's wall with adhesive or a magnet. Some thermometer models are able to change between two or more of these placement options.

Tube-style thermometers are made to resemble traditional mercury thermometers, but the tube is instead filled with a non-toxic spirit such as ethanol or isoamyl acetate. These displays sometimes use bold numbers to make reading them easy. Like the dial thermometers, these can hang, stand, or adhere to the unit wall.

The most versatile type of refrigerator thermometer is a digital thermometer. Digital refrigerator thermometers feature a digital display that mounts to the outside of the refrigeration unit, with a probe attached to a lead that constantly reads the temperature inside the refrigerator or freezer. Some of these can also read humidity, and can collect and save temperature data to make meeting HACCP data collection guidelines simple.

Some thermometers can connect to a computer wirelessly or via USB to relay the data it has collected at programmed intervals, and can send an alarm to an email if temperatures fall below the designated threshold. Depending on the transmission rate, the battery will only need to be charged every three months to one year.

Specialty Temperature Safety Devices

Comark also makes several specialty thermometers to help you maintain food safety. One of these is a data logger, which can keep track of food temperatures as the food is being transported. This model allows the recorded information to be saved to a computer. A data logger like this one could come in handy for a shipping or delivery company, a catering business, or any foodservice operation with a need to track food temperatures as the food thaws or chills.

Another specialty option is a meat thermometer. These are pocket dial-style thermometers that, instead of having numbers all the way around the dial, only feature the 'important' numbers with labels for what they mean. These thermometers will often include safe cooking temperatures for items such as beef, poultry, pork, and lamb. This style of thermometer can come in handy for inexperienced cooks who may not have safe cooking temperatures memorized.

1. Kitchen Thermometers USDA. Accessed October 2015.