Sunday, March 27, 2011

Food Smarts - For Real...'Record Your Temperatures'

by Juliet Bodinetz-Rich

Last month we discussed investing in thermometers for your ‘Safe Staff’ and making sure they take actual temperature readings and to remind them to calibrate those thermometers.  I realize ‘For Real,’ that a chef is not going take the temperature of every hamburger, pork chop, or steak they cook.  I understand that they are using their skills and experience as a chef to recognize these foods are cooked by their color and texture. In real life, to protect your establishment as well as your customers, temperatures should be taken and logs should be documented and kept in these situations:

1)   Receiving – Take random temperatures to make sure product is entering your establishment safely.
2)   Refrigeration Storage – It’s not going to hurt you to take two or three random food item temperatures in your refrigeration units each day. You need to know immediately if your refrigeration units have stopped working. It doesn’t matter how much I love an owner, I have no pity at all for an establishment if they are finding out their refrigeration unit is broken because their health inspector is telling them. How long has it been broken? Since their last visit last year?  
3)   Cooking – Soups, Stews & Casseroles (165°F) because you have added raw to cooked ingredients, poultry because of high risk of Salmonella and roasts.
4)   Cooling – Write down when you start cooling the food and what time you put it in the fridge. You only have 2 hours to get that cooling food to 70°F or below so you can then put it in the fridge. Write down the time and temperatures you start cooling, put it in the fridge and time completed of cooling. It’s proof that the cooling soup has not been sitting on the kitchen counter all day. Especially if you get a “surprise visit” from your local Health Inspector.
5)   Reheating – You only have two hours to get it to 165°F. 
6)   Maintaining – Instead of waiting four hours and discarding the food item if it’s in the TDZ, do a temperature check at two hours so you can correct the situation.  Why throw your money (your food) in the trash?

Record keeping and documentation of time and temperature logs demonstrates that you are actually taking temperatures and controlling Time and Temperature to avoid foodborne illnesses. As exemplified above, temperatures should be taken and recorded whenever food is being held to be served and especially when the food is passing through the most dangerous part of the Temperature Danger Zone: 70°F-125°F, i.e. cooling and reheating.  According to the “Magic Rule,” food cannot be in the danger zone more than four hours or else it has to be discarded. But when reheating or cooling food is only allowed two hours going up or down through the most dangerous part of TDZ ~70°F-125°F. Time & Temperature logs help guide your employees to make sure they are following proper procedures and it also serves as demonstration to your health inspectors that proper procedures are being followed. Worst case scenario: you are taken to court for a foodborne illness accusation; your Time & Temperature Logs can help protect you as proof that you were in compliance with local health regulations. No one cares what you say in court and that is why written documentation is so important when you take temperatures.  Don’t know how to get started on developing a Time & Temperature Log? We hope these examples can help you to make them on excel for example?

General Food Holding (Hot/Cold) & for Your Refrigeration Units

Date
Time
Food Product
Internal Temperature
Corrective Action Taken
Employee Initials
Manager Initials






















Cooling Time & Temperature Log

Date
Food
Time
Internal Temp
+2hours
Time
+ 2 hours internal Temp
Corrective Action Taken
Employee initials
+4 hours time
+4 hours internal Temp
Corrective
 Action Taken
Employee initials




































Reheating Time & Temperature Log
Date
Food
Time
+2 hours time
+2 hours internal Temp
Corrective Action Taken
Employee Initials
Manager Initials

































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