The Chefs Table

Serving Safe Food

Posted in The Chefs Table by ftiess on the August 3rd, 2009

The most important thing that anyone who handles food needs to know is the cause and effect of their food handling actions. Those who have been trained about of the essentials of food safety are less likely to cause food related contamination. This hour long course of study will equip you with these essentials.

There are three types of food contaminations are Chemical, Physical and Biological.
As a food handler what you need to remember is

1. All cleaning chemicals must be handled according to the manufacturers stipulations. The chemicals can not be stored near any food production areas.

2. Physical contaminations include hair, nail fragments, bandages, metal fragments, and broken glass.
a. Always keep your hair constrained within a hairnet or hat according to the operation manager’s regulation.
b. Keep your nails trimmed and clean, do not use finger nail polish, wear gloves when handling ready to eat foods, or if your hands have bandages, nail polish, or irremovable rings.
c. Metal fillings from can openers must be cleaned off between each use.
d. Glass must never come in contact with ice dispensing areas, or used in the kitchen to consume beverages. If glass is stored in the refrigerator it must be stored away from ready to eat foods.

3. Please review the following video concerning biological contaminants.

The key item to remember is that food has a certain amount of time that can remain in the temperature danger zone, or TDZ. The TDZ or temperature danger zone is between 41° and 140°. Chilled food must be stored below 41° and all hot food must be held above 140°. The amount of time that these foods can be held outside of the TDZ depends upon expiration dates, and the HAACP proven systems of time and temperature control.

As part of the time and temperature control systems food can only be held hot for a defined period of time and must be reheated to 165° if the temperature drops below 140°. The current regulations include a minimum variance of hot holding between 135° and 145°. Please check with your operation’s manager to verify the correct minimum holding temperature in your establishment.

The correct actions by a food handler are the keys to ensuring safe food. These include:
1. Washing your hands.
a. After using the restroom.
b. After touching your face or skin.
c. After removing the trash.
d. After handling soiled dishes, service ware or pots.
e. After handling raw foods.
f. Between glove uses.
g. In between tasks including before you start work.

2. Report any illness’s to your operation’s manager. You may need to provide a doctor’s clearance before you are permitted to handle food that is to be consumed.
3. Keeping yourself clean by bathing or showering daily. Avoid using perfume or cologne before preparing food.
4. Only wear clean clothes and a clean apron while involved in food preparation.
5. Hair must be contained within a hat and/or hairnet.
6. Change or use gloves when:
a. Utensils are not practical.
b. If you have a wound on your hand.
c. When handleing ready to eat foods.
d. The glove becomes torn or damaged.
e. When leaving your station or changing tasks.

Another way that a food handler can ensure that food is safe is to cook or reheat foods to the correct temperature. The only acceptable method to check the internal temperature of a food item is through the use a calibrated thermometer. Check with your operation manager or standardized recipe for the correct cooking temperature.

Cross contamination is one of the leading causes for food borne illness. Always wash rinse and sanitize;
1. Hands between tasks, after handling food or chemicals with your hands, and before beginning work.
2. Cutting boards in between tasks.
3. All preparation items after each use.

1. Use sanitizer in place of soap and water.
2. Combine raw and cooked foods or place on the same surface.
3. Store potentially hazardous foods above ready to eat food.
4. Prepare vegetable or fruits that have not been washed properly.

Finally only prepare foods that are wholesome to begin with:
1. Purchase food from approved sources.
2. Never use a product from a damaged container.
3. Receive and store foods at the correct holding temperatures.
4. Only use foods that have been covered, labeled and dated.
5. Store food in the refrigerator based upon how potentially hazardous they are. Always keep proteins in a seperate refrigerator to lessen the chance of cross contamination.

Refrigerator 1 Example
- Top shelf-Cooked Ready to eat foods
Stocks and prepared mise en place.
Bottom ShelfEggs

Refrigerator 2 Example -Top Shelf-Sealed Packaged Seafood
Sealed Package Whole Proteins
Portioned Proteins
Portioned Ground Meat
Sealed Packed Poultry
Bottom ShelfPortioned Poultry

Whole seafood and fish that is packed in ice must be stored in its own refrigerator

6. Don’t use prepared food items that are more than 7 days old.
7. Control all pests by keeping food preparation areas clean.
8. Store chemicals away from food.

The proper cooling of prepared foods is critical. To ensure that food is cooled properly always cool the prepared food in shallow pans. This two stage cooling check system required that the food must be cooled to 70 degrees within the first two hours and cooled then cooled from 70 degrees to 41 degrees in less than 4 hours. Maximum cooling time allowance is 6 hours from above 140 degrees to below 41 degrees.

Lets Review.

To summarize: Wash you hands often, wear gloves when needed, watch how you store food, and abide by the time and temperatue rules of food preparation.

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