Monitoring and Controlling Food Safety Temperatures
Chefs and commercial kitchen managers need to ensure procedures are in place to monitor and control food safety temperatures. This applies to food which is on display, resting prior to serving or being transported. Food kept between 5oC and 60oC is at particular risk of allowing bacteria to grow so maintaining food safety temperatures outside this range is critical.
Ensure hot food is 60oC or hotter
Food in pie warmers, bain-maries and other equipment needs to be checked regularly to ensure it is 60oC or warmer. Kitchen staff need to be trained in the use of quality food thermometers to quickly ascertain the temperature of foods in this equipment. The equipment must be maintained so it is capable of keeping food at the requisite temperature and thermostats must be regulated accordingly.
Ensure cold food is 5oC or colder
The same rules above apply to cold food – check and maintain equipment, use thermometers, train staff and regulate thermostats.
Frozen food must be frozen
As deliveries arrive, check to ensure they are frozen and waste no time transferring them into your freezer. The food safety temperature for frozen food is -18oC. Check your freezer to see this temperature is maintained.
Record keeping is best practice for temperature monitoring. As the temperature of various foods and equipment is checked, write the findings in a log and record the date, time and name of the staff member responsible for the check. Watch for any patterns that may appear and educate staff as required.
Between 5oC and 60oC, bacteria readily grow on various foods. Below are some common examples for chefs and commercial kitchen managers to be aware of.
· Delicatessen items including hams, chicken loafs, salamis and Strasbourg.
· Seafood such as seafood salad, fish stock, fish balls and patties, stews containing seafood, fish and crustaceans. (This does not include live seafood.)
· Cooked rice and pasta.
· Food preparations incorporating eggs, nuts (and other protein sources) beans and soy beans.
· Cooked and raw meats and food containing these such as lasagne, casseroles, curries, stews and soups.
· Dairy products like milk, soft cheese, dairy desserts, cheesecakes, custards.
· Processed fruit and vegetables that may be in salads, such as cut cucumber or melon.
Effects of Food Poisoning
Vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea are all well-known symptoms of food poisoning. The reactions are caused by one of two elements – bacteria or the poisons they produce. Generally, the vast majority of people will survive a bout of food poisoning. However, in young children and frail elderly people it can produce longer term health problems or even be life threatening.
Additionally, food poisoning episodes can see restaurants and food preparation establishments close overnight. There are many examples of restaurants which became front page material because of a salmonella scare and have never recovered. The damage to the reputation of individuals involved is irreversible and persistent.
By establishing and maintaining a temperature control and monitoring regime in their kitchen, chefs and kitchen managers will be protecting their customers, ensuring high-quality output and safeguarding their reputations.
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