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Is Your Food In The Danger Zone?

Jan 23, 2013
When dealing with food safety, it is crucial to remember that temperature variations can mean the safety and well-being of your diner. Although, many would not like to think so grimly about how changes in time and temperature affect your food so severely, these changes can most certainly gravely impact your diner's health. Food safety should always be a top priority and concern for anyone in food service.

All foods should be maintained at certain temperatures, however, many foods still fall into the Danger Zone. The Danger Zone is known as the range of temperatures between 40°F to 140°F. This range of temperatures is most dangerous because it is within this range that germs and bacteria grow the fastest. Bacteria can double in growth within 20 minutes of being in the Danger Zone, especially if it's a moist environment. Once food falls into the Danger Zone, there is no way to kill off the germs in order to make the food safe enough to consume. Best practice would be to avoid the danger zone all together and follow theses guidelines:

  • -Keep hot cooked foods at or above 140 °F. Hot foods should be placed in preheated steam tables, warming trays or slow cookers if the hot food is not being immediately served

  • -Keep cold foods at or below 40 °F. Food should be placed in containers on ice if not in refrigeration units.

  • -Cool leftovers using a blast-chiller, otherwise placing them into food pans and back into the refrigerator/freezer would work.

  • -Leftovers should be placed in shallow pans for quicker cooling.

  • -Leftovers should be placed into the refrigerator/freezer (<40°F) within 2 hours to prevent spoilage of perishable foods.

  • -Never leave food out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours, and no more than an hour on a hot day (90°F+).

  • -Cooked foods must reach the minimum safe internal temperature for at least 15 seconds in order to be deemed safe for consumption.

  • -Reheated foods need to reach 165°F (hot & steaming) in order to be safe for consumption.

  • -When roasting meat and poultry the oven temperature can be no lower than 325°F.

  • -Use a meat thermometer whenever possible to make sure that the internal temperature of your specific meat is being reached.

  • -Monitor temeprature of food prep areas if necessary to make sure your prepared ingredients don't spoil.

Whether you're cooking, reheating, cooling, storing or whatever you are doing with your food, it is important to remember the safety of your diner. Although a diner may not perish like your perishable food from bacteria, your diner can still get severely ill. It may seem to be a bit over-whelming to monitor all these various temperatures, but you can be sure that this will avoid a health violation and that your diner is happy to be served delicious, bacteria-free food from your establishment.

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