Temperature control in the production and preparation of food is important for a number of reasons, to preserve quality but most importantly to ensure safety. As a business, it is your responsibility to closely follow food safety guidelines when it comes to temperature control.
By controlling the temperature, you can control the levels of bacteria which spoil foods and cause illness. Heat kills bacteria, while cold temperatures slow down the growth of bacteria to prevent it from reaching harmful levels.
The Danger Zone is a temperature range in which bacteria grow and multiply at the fastest rate. This ranges from 20 – 45 °C (68 – 113 °F). Bacteria can, however, grow and survive between 5 – 65 °C (41 – 149 °F). However, the most common food-related bacteria grow at their best in the ‘danger zone’.
If you are involved in food manufacturing or preparation, it’s your responsibility to keep foods out of the danger zone by using approved methods to chill, heat, and store foods. We now know why temperature control is so important, but how can you achieve it? In this article, we will be exploring temperature control techniques to ensure that food is kept out of the danger zone as much as possible, and is safe to be consumed.
In raw foods, such as meat, fruit and vegetables, high levels of bacteria may be present due to contamination with soil or due to the preparation process. It is important that food is cooked thoroughly to a core temperature of at least 75ºC for at least two minutes to kill the bacteria.
One way to check whether the food has been cooked thoroughly would be to use a probe thermometer, but you must also take care that probe thermometers do not contaminate or taint the food being probed. You can do this by cleaning and disinfecting them before use with ready to eat food. If antibacterial wipes are used to do this, they must be suitable for use with food.
It is also recommended that you keep a record of checks that you make. It is good practice to check and record at least two or three high-risk food temperatures per day.
Chilling food does not kill bacteria, but it does slow down their growth rate. This is why food kept in your fridge still goes off, but it takes longer to do so. It is a legal requirement that perishable foods should be kept refrigerated at 8ºC or below. Frozen food should ideally be kept at a temperature at or below -18ºC.
It is good practice to check and record fridge and freezer temperatures at least once per day. If a fridge cannot keep food below 8ºC, it must be serviced or replaced.
To avoid leaving food in the danger zone for too long, foods should be cooled down as quickly as possible. You should aim to cool foods to below 8ºC within 90 minutes.
If food is to be held hot for service, it must be cooked to at least 75ºC for two minutes and then held at a temperature at or above 63ºC. This is a legal requirement and it is good practice to check whether foods that are being held hot are at or above 63ºC on a regular basis.
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We work with many businesses in a range of different industries including food production and preparation. If you are looking for a commercial food cooling solution to help you meet food temperature control safety guidelines, get in touch with Green Cooling today.< Back to Blog