Whether you operate a bakery or a full-service dining hall, it’s crucial to maintain temperature control, rotate your food and keep an eye out for cross-contamination. All of these factors are critical to ensuring that you’re providing the best possible food and service to your customers.
Depending on the type of food you’re storing, you’re going to need to keep your perishables at certain temperatures to make sure they stay fresh. Temperature control is crucial to maintaining the safety of your food. If your perishables enter the temperature danger zone, they’re at risk of developing microorganisms that can be harmful if consumed.
The temperature danger zone is between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Some foods are more affected by temperature than others – dairy, fish, tomatoes, meat, cooked rice and vegetables all fall into this category. The internal cooking temperatures for these foods are as follows.
- Cooked plant foods and processed foods: 135 degrees Fahrenheit
- Pork, beef, lamb, beef, veal, fish: 145 degrees Fahrenheit
- Ground meat and eggs: 155 degrees Fahrenheit
- Poultry, casseroles, stuffing: 165 degrees Fahrenheit
Rotating your food is also critical to maintaining freshness over time. Use the FIFO, “First In, First Out,” rule at your establishment. This means labeling your foods with the dates that you get them or want to use them by and putting the older foods in front or on top so that you use them first. A food rotation program can prevent potential food-borne illnesses, lawsuits and fines. Labeling all of your food in your pantries, freezers and refrigerators can also help you maintain an efficient food rotation strategy.
Cross contamination can be simply defined as the transfer of disease-causing organisms from one food surface to another. Every year, about 48 million people come down with a food-borne illness in the U.S. Perhaps the most surprising part about this fact is that 58 percent of these cases stem from commercial establishments and institutions. Everything from people to food can cause cross contamination, making it easy for it to occur in any cooking environment.
Luckily, there are ways that you can prevent these issues from developing. It’s important to always wash your hands and all of your cooking equipment after it’s used. In addition, you’ll want to train your employees to make sure that they’re up to speed on how to prevent food-borne illness and cross contamination in the kitchen. Color coding your food in the work area can help with this process as well. For instance, labeling containers with meat in them with red stickers and fruits with green stickers can help you stay organized.
By Courtnie Elston