Testing Deep Fat Fry Oils: With IR feature, users can actually perform a test of how much temperatures dropped when product was placed into hot oil and record recovery times, a function nearly impossible with a probe thermometer.
On the model that offered the HACCP check, he notes that this special feature allowed him to instantly see when the product was within the safe or unsafe HACCP temperature danger zone (TDZ).
“This feature makes it simple for cooks to actually see when product is or is not in the proper temperature zone,” he writes.
Niemeyer also used the IR function to solve a problem he always had trying to perform sanitizing temperature tests at the exit end of mechanical dishwashing machines. The results were so positive, he bought one of the combination probe and IR model thermometers to use for the audits and evaluations he conducts for his clients.
In the past, he always had to stick a thermal-paper thermometer on a plate and run it through the machine. Unfortunately, the paper thermometer frequently washed off and he would be required to do another test. During his IR evaluations, he decided to try to test both the plates and pot and pan washing, and sanitizing temperatures as required by the National Restaurant Association’s Educational Foundation “ServSafe” sanitation training.
“I just ‘aimed’ the thermometer in the IR mode on the plates as they exited the machine to ensure their surface temperatures were at 160° (F) or higher,” Niemeyer explains. “Now, I do this test for free making the technology pay for itself in a short time.”
More Tips on Ways to Use IR
He explains that it’s important to understand all the benefits that IR technology has and how it can be used in any food service operation. Here’s how Niemeyer and others use IR to meet the challenges food service operations face every day:
Receiving: Use IR to shoot boxes coming off delivery trucks to determine transport conditions. Scan cold boxes to spot-check—warm boxes are a red flag— everything. Likewise shoot the outside of milk cartons, and if they’re 40° to 45° degrees, they’re good. A temperature any higher than that should be checked with a probe thermometer. Record temperatures on the supplier invoice.
Line Checks: Take a fast IR scan 1 inch below the food surface on all hot and cold line checks, as allowed by NSF 4 and 7 standards. HOT: Use your ladle or spoon to pull hot food up from 1 inch below the surface and shoot close inside serving piece. COLD: Likewise, push back food 1 inch with the serving spoon and shoot in a half inch.
Timer/Alarm: If your IR thermometer has an eight-hour adjustable countdown timer with an alarm, use it as a line check reminder. The timer will beep when it’s time to perform the next line check. After completing the line check, re-set the timer for next line check reminder.
Equipment Calibration: Instantly verify temperatures on grills, ovens, coolers, freezers etc. Check fry oil temperatures by using the basket to stir the fry oil and shoot from 3 inches away. Place a brick inside stainless steel ovens. After warm up, open the oven door and shoot the brick to check oven cavity temperature.
Coolers and Freezers: Enter freezer or cooler and immediately close the door. Scan products to determine cooler efficiency, especially when closed for an hour or more. Avoid defrost time. With the door closed, check ambient air temperature by waving a piece of paper in any section of the cooler or freezer for a few seconds. Shoot the paper with the IR thermometer and compare to the cooler or freezer’s thermostat.