Dishwashing machines are a vital part of any food service operation, but they also present a potential food safety hazard if not maintained properly. One key part of any dishwashing machines ability to sanitize plateware, silverware and cooking utensils is having hot water available, and with new changes coming to the Minnesota food code, you’ll soon be required to take specific steps to monitor the warewashing water temperature in your dishwashing machine.
Proposed Minnesota Food Code Compatible Warewashing Water Temperature Measuring Options
We learn in online ServSafe courses that the hot water temperature in your dishwashing machine must reach temperatures greater than 160 degrees for proper sanitation. Many types of devices exist that can ensure that food contact surfaces reach the proper temperature:
- Single-Use Temperature-Sensitive Stickers
- Temperature-Sensitive Labels and Test Strips
- Reusable Waterproof Thermometers
Temperature-sensitive stickers and labels are color changing devices that can only be used one time. There are advantages and disadvantages to using stickers and labels. The cost of a box of these temperature-sensitive devices is much cheaper than a thermometer designed for measuring your dishwashing machine’s water temperature. Accuracy of these labels can be called into question as they do not give you a reading to the exact degree. While they do change color based on water temperature, they only give you a range of temperature rather than an exact reading. A word of warning about stickers and labels; they come in many different temperature ranges, so make sure you purchase a product that reads temperatures of at least 160 degrees.
We recommend a reusable Min-Max registering digital thermometer designed for warewashing. While the initial cost of these is much more expensive, over time you may find the long term cost of buying box after box after box of test strips might be more expensive. These thermometers can be accurate to the tenth or hundredth of a degree, and come in numerous styles, some that are even shaped like a small plate that will fit conveniently on your dishwashing rack. They are easy to read, easy to use and give you a much better idea of exactly how your dishwashing machine is performing.
Making sure that your warewashing temperature is high enough to kill pathogens will eliminate one sensitive area in your facility. We’d like to know which type of temperature monitoring device you find the most convenient.