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Monitoring Food Cooling Processes In Restaurants

Feb 18, 2014

Last week we briefly introduced how Temperature@lert could help the food suppliers remotely monitor food temperature during transportation, and this week we’d like to share some crucial knowledge on the topic of temperature monitoring during food cooling—a process wherein the majority of the restaurants in the U.S. fail to meet the FDA recommendations.

The notion that improper cooling processes of hot food will very likely lead to foodborne illness is a well known fact—between 1998 and 2008, inadequate food cooling processes in restaurants led to 504 outbreaks in the United States alone. The shocking nature of that statistic exposes the critical improvements needed to be made to the sectors within food preparation, along with the necessary implementation of stricter monitoring procedures during the cooling process.


The FDA’s Food Code provides detailed guidelines for food service establishments to reduce pathogen proliferation during the cooling processes. The FDA explicitly states that for potentially hazardous food, time-temperature control is necessary to keep food safe before consumption. The food has to be cooled “rapidly” in order to minimize the amount of time that the food temperature is within the danger zone (40°-140°F). For instance, the food temperature has to drop from 135° to 70°F within 2 hours, and from 70° to 41°F in no less than 4 additional hours.

Cooling processes (a critical step in food preparation) should be tested, verified and monitored. The FDA Food Code recommends temperature monitoring on an ongoing basis and the obtained temperature data should be recorded for future verification.

In a research project conducted by Brown et al, 420 restaurant managers were interviewed on the food cooling practices in their working site. Only 20% of them admitted that the food cooling regulations in their jurisdiction were consistent with the FDA’s recommendations. 60% of the managers said the food cooling practices were monitored on a routine basis—half of those calibrated the thermometers weekly. But 6% of the restaurants had never calibrated their thermometers. In 79% of the observations, the food was not cooled to the required temperature on time. Given the information, it won’t surprise anyone to learn that 85.5% of the managers reported cooling processes that did not meet all FDA recommended components.

In order to prevent customer exposure to food borne illness, restaurants must follow FDA’s recommended guidelines in all the steps of food preparation. We suggest that restaurants implement rapid cooling as well as temperature monitoring in order to keep food out of the danger zone. Temperature@lert products can help you efficiently monitor the temperature during the food cooling process as well as in storage. Please feel free to contact info@temperaturealert.com for solution recommendations.

Temperature@lert Food Service Refrigeration Monitoring Guide




References

Brown, L,G, Ripley, D, Blade,H, Reimann, D, Everstine, K, Nicholas, D, Egan, J, Koktavy, N, Quilliam, D,N, EHS-NET Working Group. “Restaurant Food Cooling Practices”. Journal of Food Protection, (75:12), 2012, 2172-2178.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Limitation of growth of organisms of public health concern”. Food Code. 2009. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/Retail FoodProtection/FoodCode/FoodCode2009/ucm186451.htm#part3-5. Accessed 24 April 2012.

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