Safely cooking food is a matter of temperature. Cooking the food to the proper temperature is the best way to destroy harmful germs that may be present in foods. Foods need to reach a high enough internal temperature to kill bacteria that can cause food borne illness. Most types of germs are killed through cooking. Cooking temperatures will vary depending on the type of food being prepared.
TIME AND TEMPERATURE:
- Bacteria grow rapidly between 4°C and 60°C (40°F and 140°F).
- To keep food out of this danger zone, keep cold food cold (below 4°C) and hot food hot (above 60°C).
- Never leave food in the danger zone over two hours. This two hours includes preparation time.
- If room temperatures are above 35 C (90°F) the time frame drops to one hour including preparation and sitting time.
- Foods must never be left to thaw at room temperature. At room temperature the outer part of the food will thaw quickly and may remain in the temperature danger zone for too long while the center of the food continues thawing.
- The safest way to thaw food is inside a refrigerator. Inside the refrigerator the temperature of the food will always remain below 4ºC, out of the temperature danger zone. When you thaw raw products, place them in a container, that will hold any juices leaking out of the food, and store the container on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator to prevent contamination of the other foods. Cook the meat as soon as its defrosted.
- Other acceptable ways to thaw food include holding under cold running water using a sealed package/container or in a microwave if it is part of the cooking process. Do not place food directly into the sink, use a bowl or basin.
- When using a microwave only use microwave safe containers. Before defrosting remove food from any packaging as they are not microwave safe (e.g. polystyrene trays, plastic wrap, freezer cartons, etc.).
- Use a clean platter or container to collect any juices that leak out of the foot to help prevent the contamination of the microwave.
- Use the microwaves defrost setting for defrosting. Do not use high heat settings.
- If you don’t have time to thaw food: It is safe to cook foods from a frozen state, but the cooking will be approximately 50 percent longer than fully thawed meat or poultry. Use a food thermometer to ensure food is cooked to safe internal temperature.
- When using water to defrost food, ensure the sink has been sanitized. Food can be defrosted using running water or by submerging in cold water. Submerging food for defrosting requires the water to be changed every 30 minutes.
- Thawing/Defrosting Food - Safe Work Procedure
When preparing food for the oven, preheat the oven to at least 162°C (325°F) before placing food into the oven. Preheating to full temperature is the best practice. Cook food to the recommended safe temperature and check the internal temperature in several places with a food thermometer.
Color & touch are not reliable indicators of doneness:
- Color and texture are not reliable indicators of whether food has reached a high enough internal temperature to destroy pathogens.
- According to USDA research, 1 in 4 hamburgers turns brown before reaching a safe internal temperature.
- The best way to ensure food safety is to use a food thermometer.
Check with a food thermometer:
- Use a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood, egg products, leftovers and casseroles are cooked to safe temperatures to destroy any harmful bacteria.
- It is extremely important that you use a metal stem thermometer to check the temperature of the food you are cooking.
- Food thermometers should be placed in the thickest part of food, making sure not to touch bone, fat or gristle.
- Compare the thermometer reading to a food chart (safe minimum internal temperatures food chart) to ensure the food has been cooked to a safe temperature.
- Clean the food thermometer with hot water and soap after each use. Thermometers must be washed and sanitized before coming into contact with food and between each use to prevent cross-contamination.
- For information on how to use/calibrate your food thermometer, see the link below:
Food should not be tasted until it reaches a safe internal temperature. Refer to internal cooking temperature chart above for the recommended safe temperatures.
MICROWAVE SAFE TEMPERATURES:
A microwave oven can be used to prepare food, but care must be taken to ensure food reaches a safe internal temperature throughout.
- Read and follow package cooking instructions. Most prepared convenience foods are not ready to eat right out of the container.
- Know when to use a microwave or conventional oven. Sometimes proper cooking requires the use of a conventional oven, not a microwave.
- Some convenience foods may be shaped irregularly or are thicker in some areas and may not cook evenly in a microwave oven. It is important to use the appliance and the method recommended on the label.
- Stir or rotate food midway through the microwaving time to eliminate cold spots, and for more even cooking. Cover food.
- Know your microwave wattage before microwaving food. If your microwave’s wattage is lower than the wattage mentioned in the label’s instructions, it will take longer than the instructions say to cook the food to a safe internal temperature.
- Always use a food thermometer to ensure a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to test food in several places to ensure it has reached a safe internal temperature.
- Any food cooked in a microwave oven must be cooked to 74°C (165º F), stirred at least once during cooking, and then left to stand covered for a minimum of two minutes prior to serving.
- Partial cooking may be done in the microwave only if the food is to finish cooking immediately, either on the range, grill, or in a conventional oven.
- Observe standing times given in recipes so cooking is completed.
- Clean and sanitize the microwave after each shift (breakfast/lunch/etc.) or if it has become visibly dirty.
- Microwave Cooking & Reheating - Safe Work Procedure
HOT HOLDING/COLD HOLDING:
- Once food has been cooked or reheated, it must be held hot, at or above 60°C (140°F).
- Food may be held in the oven; on buffet table in heated chafing dishes; or on preheated steam tables, warming trays, insulated containers or slow cookers.
- Always keep hot food hot.
- Always keep cold food cold. Store food in the refrigerator set at 4°C (40°F).
- Food left open to the public, that must remain cold, can be placed in coolers/bowls/basins with ice, or in insulated containers. do not leave food uncovered/open to the public to prevent contamination of food such as coughing/sneezing/touching.
- Place cold food into smaller, shallow containers(10 cm (4" ) deep or less) as food will chill more quickly. Food to be kept cold may be kept in the refrigerator during service. If ice is used, it must be placed around the container of the food, up to the level of the food. Ice must be replenished as it melts.
- When transporting hot or cold food: Place cold food in coolers with a cold source such as ice or commercial freezing gels. Cold food should be held at or below 4 C (40°F). Hot food should be kept hot, at or above 60 C (140°F). Wrap well and place in an insulated containers.
- Hot/Cold Holding Food - Safe Work Procedure
- Heat cooked, commercially vacuum-sealed, ready-to-eat foods, such as hams and roasts, to 74°C (165°F).
- Foods that have been cooked ahead and cooled should be reheated quickly to at least 74 C (165°F).
- Reheat all leftovers thoroughly to at least 74 C (165°F).
- Reheat sauces, soups, and gravies by bringing to a boil, 100 C (212°F).
- On stove top – place food in pan and heat thoroughly. The food should reach at least 74 C (165°F) on a food thermometer when done.
- In oven – Preheat oven to the desired temperature. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food.
- In microwave – stir, cover, and rotate fully cooked food for even heating to make sure there are no cold spots in food where bacteria can survive. Heat food until it reaches at least 74 C (165°F) through-out.
- Slow cookers, steam stables or chafing dishes are NOT allowed to be used to reheat food. They may be used to keep food hot. Reheating leftovers in this type of equipment is not allowed because foods may stay in the danger zone, between 4°C and 60°C (40°F and 140°F), too long. Bacteria multiply rapidly at these temperatures.
- Once leftovers have been defrosted, eat them right away, do not refreeze them. Throw away any parts that are not consumed.
- Reheating Food (Leftovers) - Safe Work Procedure
- Use clean containers and utensils to store and serve food.
- Use suitable utensils such as spatulas, tongs, single use gloves or dispensing equipment when handling ready to eat foods. Do not use bare hands to handle food when serving.
- When a dish is empty or nearly empty, replace with a fresh container of food. Do not add food to existing containers.
- Keep It Cold - Place cold food in small, shallow containers on ice. Hold cold foods at or below 4 C (40°F).
- If ice is unavailable, place cold food in small serving containers and remove from refrigeration just prior to serving on a buffet table.
- Individual serving dishes can also be set out just prior to the buffet starting and restocked as required.
- Keep It Hot - Once food is thoroughly heated on the stove top, in the oven or in the microwave oven, keep food hot by using a heat source. Place food in chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, warming trays, or slow cookers.
- Check the temperature frequently to be sure food stays at or above 60 C (140°F).
- When serving is finished - discard any food left out at room temperature for more than two hours. If in doubt, throw it out!
- Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers to allow for rapid cooling. Shallow containers are only 10 centimetres (4 inches) deep or less.
- Hot/Cold Holding Food - Safe Work Procedure