Food Safety – FAQ Tips and Tricks
Food Safety is very important and knowing about it can help keep you and your family healthy. Here are some answers, tips, and tricks, to frequently asked questions that you may have about food safety.
“What is the safe holding temperature for foods that are already cooked?”
If you have any potentially hazardous foods which are not served immediately after you are done cooking them, then they must be either cooled down to a temperature of less than 40 degrees, or held at 140 degrees or higher.
Food safety is all about keeping the foods you cook at the right temperatures, and not in the danger zone.
“What Happens if I do not hold the food at temperatures under 40 degrees or above 140 degrees?”
Foods that are held at a temperature that’s either under 40 or over 140, it is in what is called the Danger Zone.
This is not a good thing because if the food doesn’t get take care of in less than 2 hours, you run the risk of causing a food borne illness outbreak.
The amount of time spent in the danger zone does not reset if you decide to take it out again and return it to the danger zone.
This is because when it is in the danger zone it is growing bacteria and refrigerating your food doesn’t kill them, it just slows them down.
“What are foods that are considered to be potentially hazardous?”
This would include high protein food items such as poultry, milk, milk products, gravy, fish, shellfish, etc. These will all gladly support the growth of harmful bacteria causing a food borne illness.
“What is the difference between a food borne intoxication and a food borne infection?”
Certain bacteria under certain conditions produce chemicals and toxins in food which when ingested by a person, will cause a food intoxication.
A food borne infection is caused by the ingestion of food containing a bacteria, virus, or parasite that must multiply within the gastrointestinal tract before causing symptoms and problems.
This is why food safety is so important!
“What causes a food borne illness?”
Most of the time, the majority of food borne illnesses can be traced back to one or more of the following:
Food that has been cooked too far in advance to serving.
Food had poor refrigeration.
Food was not held at the correct temperature.
There was a lack of adherence to personal hygiene standards.
The person responsible was careless in the preparation of the product and the application of what was recommended to them.
“What is the best way to thaw frozen foods?”
If you have frozen food you are trying to thaw don’t use methods such as exposure to excessive heat, hot air, or hot water. Instead, thaw the frozen foods in the refrigerator.
This will take a little more time, but you will have a much better final product. For perfect thawing, 36-38 degrees is perfect.
You can even use their original wrappers and packaging to enhance uniform thawing and also reduce moisture loss.
“Is there a problem with pastries?”
Yes, cream puffs, custard filled pies and cakes, eclairs, and all products similar to those must be prepared and cooked under sanitary conditions, covered, cooled quickly, and refrigerated until they are served. They also must remain under refrigeration when serving.
“How should ice be handled when used as part of the meal being served?”
Ice that is intended to be served for human consumption in food or drinks must be made from potable drinking water only.
Ice should definitely be handled carefully like anything else and should be protected from contamination.
“Why are pastries so important to keep refrigerated?”
Pastries filled with dairy products and/or eggs, are highly perishable and provide ideal culture platform for pathogenic organisms to grow on. Only the quantity of food that will be consumed for the day should be prepared.
“What is the best method of freezing cooked foods for serving at a later date?”
Before you start freezing food that you’ve cooked, it’s important to cool it down quickly and as fast as you can so bacteria don’t grow.
A great way to do this is to place the containers of warm food into an ice bath, or another container filled with ice cubes and water. Wedge the containers into the ice and keep stirring the food occasionally.
Stirring ensures that the center of the food cools as well. As the mixture cools, a great way to find out the temperature is to use a thermometer.
This is the best way you know exactly when it gets to the right temperature to be wrapped labeled and placed in a freezer.