In the next segment we will explain Temperature Control including: The Danger Zone. Hot and cold holding Proper cooking temperatures Thawing and Cooling food. Foods must be cooked and held at correct temperatures, and cooks must use a metal stem or digital thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood and other cooked foods reach safe minimum internal temperatures. Obviously the only way to be sure that you’ve cooked something to the right temperature is with a probe thermometer. Remember Always hold Cold foods at 41 degree F or less Always hold Hot foods at 135 degrees F or above Most bacteria do not grow in very hot or cold temperatures. The Danger Zone in which bacteria can grow rapidly is between 41 degrees F and 135 degrees F. Potentially Hazardous Foods may not be at room temperature for more than two hours while being prepared. When you are working with food it’s key to work quickly in small batches. Keep the rest of the food you are not working with hot or cold – either below 41 degrees if it’s cold, or above 135 degrees if it’s hot food. If food has been left at room temperature for an unknown amount of time, throw it away. It could be unsafe to eat. Keeping hot foods hot, also known as “hot holding”, is important because cooking in itself does not kill all bacteria, and bacteria resumes growth if foods are allowed to drop into the temperature “danger zone”. To ensure temperature safety, steam tables, soup warmers, and other hot holding units must be turned on and heated up before hot food is put into them. Use thermometers to check the temperature of the food, and be sure to cover pans and stir food often to distribute heat evenly – and remember to never mix cold foods with cooked foods. Temperature control is a strong defense against foodborne illness and injury, and cooking meats is no exception. The guidelines for cooking meat are crucial to keeping customers healthy. Know the proper cooking temperatures for each type of meat and check your temperatures with the appropriate thermometer. But depending on the type of meat you are serving, safe temperatures can vary. Temperature control is also vital when it comes to handling cold foods. When practicing “cold holding” always be mindful of the danger zone and keep cold foods at 41 degrees F or colder. Foods can be kept in a refrigerator, ice, or other approved method to keep bacteria from growing. When using ice to keep food cold, the ice must surround the container to the top level of the food. When you are thawing food it’s time to think about the Danger Zone again. Which would be anytime the food is above 41 degrees. Acceptable methods of safely thawing frozen foods include… In the refrigerator. Put frozen foods in the refrigerator until thawed. This is the slowest and safest method. Thaw raw meats on the bottom shelf or in a container to avoid cross contamination with other foods Under cold running water. Keep the food covered in cold (70 degrees F or colder) running water until it is thawed. Or you may thaw as part of the cooking process or in the microwave for certain foods. Small items, such as frozen burritos, may be thawed while they cook. In addition to hot and cold holding, proper cooking temperatures, and correct thawing techniques – special care must be taken when cooling unserved leftovers or storing freshly cooked food – because bacteria can grow quickly as food transitions through the temperature Danger Zone. It goes back to the danger zone, you want to move food through the danger zone as quickly as possible, for instance, if you make some hot food and want to reserve the leftovers the next day your goal is to safely cool the food from 135 degrees to below 41. The key to cooling food is in two phases. First cool the food from 135 to 71 within 2 hours, Second cool food to 71 to below 41 degrees in 4 hours. Improper cooling is leading contributor to foodborne illness. We can’t stress enough to please take cooling seriously. Move food as quick as possible through the danger zone because bacteria can produce toxins that are not destroyed by reheating temperatures. Cooling food is often the riskiest step in food preparation. Here’s a quick outline on the Facts of Temperature Control; The Danger Zone is between 41 degrees F and 135 degrees F Food must not remain in the Danger Zone for longer than 2 hours. Hold Cold foods at 41 Degrees F or Less Hold Hot Foods at 135 Degrees F or higher. Know the proper cooking temperatures for meats, poultry and seafood, and use the correct probe thermometer. Follow the steps for safe Thawing and Cooling of food Time now for a quick review of what we just learned. So far we’ve covered 2 of the top 3 defenses against foodborne illness and injury. We showed you how health and hygiene provide a first line of protection from spreading contaminants in the food you serve. We outlined aspects of temperature control designed to keep food out of the “danger zone” and free from potential hazards.