Food & Dining

A Guide: Keeping Food Safe With Time And Temperature Control

Controlling Time and Temperature for Safety (TCS) Foods have the highest risk of causing food poisoning. Foodborne infections are less likely when these foods are kept at the right temperature. To verify proper temperatures, you’ll need a properly calibrated metal-stemmed bi-therm thermometer or thermocouple. Any time TCS foods are in the temperature risk zone, 41 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit, they are abused in terms of time and temperature. Make sure to properly prepare food and avoid the following manner:

  • The interior temperature was not reached to the necessary minimum.
  • The temperature was not kept at the required level.
  • Not adequately cooled or reheated.

The longer food is exposed to dangerous temperatures, the more time pathogens have to develop. The idea is to limit the amount of time TCS food is exposed to dangerous temperatures. If food is kept in this temperature range for four hours or more, it must be discarded. It’s better to check the temperature every two hours and make adjustments as needed.

Workplace health and safety are vital and if you are running a food business, this article is for you. Keep on reading to learn how to keep your food safe with time and temperature control.

Foods That Need Time and Temperature Control

  • An animal food that is raw or heat-treated, e.g., meat, chicken, fish, shellfish, crabs, and lobster
  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Milk
  • Cream or custard
  • A plant food that is heat-treated
  • Raw sprouts
  • Sliced melons
  • Cut leafy greens
  • Cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut tomatoes
  • Garlic-in-oil mixtures
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Potato dishes
  • Protein-rich plants

How Long Can Food Be Left Out?

TCS ready-to-eat items can be consumed safely within a four-hour interval. After four hours, if they haven’t been temperature managed, they should be thrown. If the goods are eliminated after the four-hour time restriction, they can be served without temperature controls for four hours.

Cold foods can be served for up to six hours if the temperature remains below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm food that has reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit should be discarded. If you don’t check the temperature of cold food that isn’t temperature controlled on a frequent basis, you should discard it after four hours.

Thawing TCS Foods

There are four ways to properly thaw frozen food. 

In the refrigerator

Because thawing food in the refrigerator takes at least 24 hours, this procedure necessitates forethought. The temperature inside the refrigerator should be at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius). The safest way for thawing meat and poultry is this method.

In cold water

Place the frozen food item in a watertight plastic bag and soak it completely in cold running water, at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius). When thawing with this procedure, the food must not be exposed to temperatures exceeding 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) for longer than four hours. Food should be cooked as soon as it has thawed.

In the microwave

For quick thawing and cooking, use the microwave method. This procedure, however, is not suitable for large meat pieces. The meal should be cooked as soon as it has thawed.

As part of the cooking process

When cooking a frozen hamburger patty, for example, the food can be thawed as part of the cooking process. Cooking frozen food directly increases the total cooking time required to bring the meal’s internal temperature to the appropriate degree.

Cooling Foods

To prevent disease growth, food must swiftly pass through the temperature danger zone. The food must first be cooled from 135 degrees Fahrenheit  to 70 degrees Fahrenheit  in two hours, then to 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below in four hours. If the food does not reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit after two hours, it must be discarded or reheated and cooled again. The entire cooling time must not exceed six hours.

Reducing the size of the food is the most effective technique to cool it. This entails breaking down large food containers into smaller containers or shallow pans.

Reheating Foods

Because foods must be reheated fast, proper cooking or rethermalizing equipment, such as a microwave, stove, or oven, is essential. Warming trays or other hot-holding equipment should not be used to reheat food for hot holding since these devices will not warm the food quickly enough, allowing infections to proliferate.

When reheating food, it must attain a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) for at least 15 seconds in less than two hours. Once this temperature has been reached, the meal should be kept at 135 degrees Fahrenheit (57 degrees Celsius) or above.

Get Your Staff Ready With Food Safety Training

To prevent bacteria from proliferating to the point where they constitute a health danger, food safety relies on time and temperature control. Food should never be left in the danger zone for more than four hours, and if it hasn’t cooled to room temperature by then, it should be discarded. The procedure begins again once the meal has been reheated to 165 degrees. If you’re reheating properly cold food to be eaten right away, you can heat it to any temperature you like.

Everyone, from management to back-of-house and front-of-house workers, needs to be thoroughly taught in TCS procedures. Food safety necessitates the participation of the entire crew. If your company needs online food safety  training, Wright Safety offers food safety courses for everyone. Check out Wright Safety today to find a package that covers all of your training requirements.

Janine Flores

My name is Janine Flores, hailing from the North Star State of Minnesota, and I’m the strong woman behind Get Fit Life!

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