The most common violations marked on restaurant health inspections are food temperature control violations. This happens because so many foods are subject to temperature control and there are many ways for things to go wrong in the management of food temperatures. By knowing the following information on safe food temperatures, it will be easier to prevent food- borne illness in kitchens, both in restaurants and at home.
Foods That Have Been Cooked Need to Be Cooled
The temperature range that bacteria grow in is from 41-135 degrees Fahrenheit.
This is known as the “Danger Zone.” To prevent bacteria growth on foods that are cooked and then cooled must go from 135 degrees down to 41 degrees quickly.
The reason for this temperature range is that temperatures below 41 degrees are too cold for bacteria to reproduce and temps above 135 degrees are too hot.
When cooling foods that have been cooked there is a timeline that the food needs to follow to make sure the food stays bacteria-free.
The food has about 2 hours to get from 135 degrees down to 70 degrees, and then an additional 4 hours to get from 70 degrees down to 41 degrees. Remember that the food must be 41 degrees all the way through, not just on the surface.
Some ways to help speed up the process would be to separate the food into smaller portions, putting the food into an ice bath, or leaving lids off during cooling. Always use a food thermometer to check cooling temperatures. 51 degrees feels cool to the touch but bacteria can thrive until the food reaches 41 degrees.
It is important to check your refrigeration system regularly to be sure it is working properly.
The “Danger Zone” still needs to be considered when reheating food. The food needs to spend the least amount of time in the Danger Zone as possible. When reheating food, a final temperature of 165 degrees needs to be reached to kill all bacteria that may have grown on the food during the cooling or reheating processes. With liquids it is best to bring them to a boil to ensure that proper reheating temperature is reached. You should really try to get foods heated to 165 degrees in a maximum of 2 hours, but the faster the better. The best methods for reheating food are using the microwave, an oven at higher temperatures, stove, or grill.
Keeping Food Hot
Once food is at it’s proper cooking temperature, to keep the food hot and prevent food borne illness the food needs to be hot held at a temperature of 135 degrees or greater. The proper cook temperature will kill any bacteria and the hot holding of over 135 degrees will prevent any new bacteria from growing on the food.
Required Cooking Temperatures
The different types of food have different required cook temperatures to ensure that they are safe to eat. These temperatures are set to ensure that any food borne bacteria associated with each food is killed and the food is safe to eat. 165 degrees is hot enough to kill any bacteria but it is good to know the proper cook temps for each food so they don’t end up getting overcooked.
PROPER COOKING TEMPERATURES
Poultry 165 F
Ground Beef 155 F
Pork 145 F
Eggs/Fish 145 F
Rare Roast Beef 130 F
Get A Food Thermometer
A food thermometer is the ONLY sure way to check food temperatures and is the only way to know that your food is at the proper temperature to kill any food borne bacteria. It is required that restaurants have food thermometers to check food temperatures and that they be properly calibrated. To tell if your thermometer is calibrated just put the probe in a glass with lots of ice and a little water (slushy) and the temperature should read 32 degrees. A thermometer that is off by 10 degrees isn’t a very useful tool. You can find food thermometers at almost any grocery store.
Proper Equipment for Food Temperatures
It is very important for facilities to have enough refrigeration or hot holding equipment for the foods that they are serving. Equipment that has been broken could cause a facility to run out of proper storage for their food products. This can cause the facility to have another food health violation. Restaurants and kitchens need to have proper food storage and proper refrigeration systems and heating equipment to keep foods out of the “Danger Zone.”
Ohio Refrigeration installs and services all makes and models of commercial refrigeration equipment. With more than 30 years in the industry, Ohio Refrigeration is the leader in installing and repairing refrigeration equipment. 24/7 emergency service available!
Ohio Refrigeration’s Services Include:
• Low Temperature Cases
• Medium Temperature Cases
• Ultra Low Temperature Cases
• Environmental Chambers
• Processed Chillers
• Walk-In Coolers and Freezers
• Ice Machines
If you need your refrigeration system repaired or need a new system installed, give us a call at 614-863-6666 or click on the button below to schedule an appointment.