9 simple rules for temperature control. Is your food safe for your customers? Learn how to comply with food hygiene standards to be food safe.
Effective temperature control is one of the most important ways to minimise the growth of bacteria and the risk of food poisoning.
Bacteria grow best at temperatures between 5 degrees C and 60 degrees C known as the ‘danger zone’. Growth of bacteria is very slow below 5 degrees C, in the ‘zone of inactivity’. Most bacteria are killed at temperatures above 60 degrees C, in the ‘zone of destruction’.
At freezing temperatures, bacteria are only dormant. Freezing does not kill bacteria.
9 Simple rules of temperature control
- Always check that the temperature of food is at the correct temperature when delivered. Use a thermometer, such as one with a metal probe, for this task.
- Never reheat food in a bain-marie. These should only be used to store hot food, which should have an internal temperature of above 60 degrees C. Regularly check and record temperatures of refrigerators, freezers, cold rooms, and refrigerated display units.
- Keep food temperatures out of the danger zone (5-60 degrees C) by planning your time, menu, cooking and storage in advance.
- Never thaw food at room temperature. Food should be thawed in a refrigerator or cold room at 5 degrees C. If time is limited, thaw food in a microwave or by running under cold water. Always thoroughly thaw food such as poultry before cooking
- Thoroughly cook meat and poultry dishes. Bacteria found naturally in meat and poultry, such as Salmonella, will be destroyed when cooked to temperatures over 60 degrees C.
- NOTE: Some bacteria, eg Clostridium perfringens (often associated with gravies) and Bacillus cereus (often associated with rice), form heat resistant toxic spores in the temperature danger zone that survive the cooking process.
- Cool food rapidly to 5 degrees C within four hours. Cool food slightly at room temperature for no more than 20 minutes, then place in the cold room. Never place hot food in large containers in the cold room. The food can take over 24 hours to cool to 5 degrees C. This provides ideal conditions for bacterial growth. Transfer the food to smaller shallow containers. This will ensure rapid cooling and minimise the growth of food poisoning bacteria and heat resistant spores.
- Reheat food quickly, and in small quantities, to at least 70 degrees C to stop bacteria growing.
- Make sure cold food is at 5 degrees C or below and hot food is at 60 degrees C or above before placing in the display unit or salad bar. Do not overload the display unit and do not display sandwiches and cream cakes on the counter or at room temperature.
Tips for measuring temperatures
- Never use glass thermometers. They can easily break and contaminate food.
- Use a probe thermometer to measure the internal temperature of food.
- Use an electronic thermometer to measure air temperature – not food temperature. These can be connected to refrigerators, cold rooms, freezers, and hot or cold display units.
- Use an infra-red thermometer to measure the surface temperature of food, such as food in cold rooms, refrigerators and hot or cold food display units.
- Use at least two types of thermometers to monitor food daily.
For more information on how to be food-safe and food hygiene why not download a copy of our practical eGuide
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