KEEPING FOOD SAFE & WHOLESOME
Food safety and sanitation means wholesome quality foods (and beverages). Restaurant kitchens know that when they practice good food safety they not only serve wholesome food but they also preserve the quality of the ingredients until using. And when ingredients are great, there’s not much to do to make them taste great!
Here are some tips for ensuring quality.
Buy the best quality ingredients to begin with and know where food products come from. Local products are easier to trace if something goes wrong. And of course, it is reasonable to expect that local products are fresher than those trucked in from long distance.
Keep cold food cold and hot food hot! Cold food under 41ºF and hot food above 140ºF.
Seafood especially needs care; ideally fresh seafood needs to be held at about 32 °F to maintain quality. Buying seafood close to when you will use it will also help. Be sure to ask when it was harvested and where, and if it has been previously frozen. Try to hold that ideal temperature when transporting home from the market; so ask for a bag of ice or bring a cooler for the trip home. Again when home add an ice to seafood while storing in the refrigerator to maintain ideal temperature since most refrigerators are designed to maintain about 40 degrees.
Hot food should be brought to desired finish temperature and held at 140 or above until served and throughout service. See the chart of suggested temperatures for food safety below. Once at the desired temperature, serve immediately or hold, at or above 140F.
Chill foods quickly to 41°F by using shallow food depths in metal, uncovered pans or bowls in the refrigerator. When in chill mode, remember too assist in the quick cool down and always leave it uncovered until the temperature drops down below 41F. Then, of course, cover. You will know if you cover too soon by the condensation on the lid of the container.
Reheating foods quickly (in 1-2 hours or less) to 165ºF is also a recommended safety practice. Take care to watch for false boil, as even cold foods bubble up to let steam out–doesn’t mean it has reached 212 degrees F. Reheating improperly is next to improper cooling in causing food borne illness.
Follow FIFO rotation (first in, first out) in refrigerator and dry storage; store raw foods and unwashed foods under and away from cooked and ready to serve foods.
Wash hands frequently and after bathroom visits, touching garbage or unclean items, and always when switching from raw foods to cooked-ready-to-serve foods. When washing hands, a good instant foaming soap works well to insure a great lather. Always wet hands before adding soap and really scrub, creating friction on backs of hands, between fingers especially if wearing a wedding band, and even scratch the palms of your hands to get suds under the fingernails. Then rinse and lather a second time before starting to work in the kitchen. Dry hands on clean kitchen towel (wash or change daily) or paper towels. Resist the urge to cleanup the sink with the towel you are wiping your hands with because you can potentially recontaminate your hands.
Manage cutting boards, utensils and knives so cross-contamination is avoided; change boards and utensils between raw and cooked foods. Clean items that cannot go into the dishwasher with hot soapy water, rinse and sanitize with a teaspoon of bleach in a gallon of water.
FINAL COOKING TEMPERATURES FOR FOOD SAFETY & QUALITY:
130-145ºF -Beef (unfabricated), Lamb, from rare to medium well
140ºF Vegetables, Rice
140-145ºF Fish, Eggs, Shellfish, Seafood, Pork, (exception-sturgeon, that should be cooked to 175-185ºF depending on its thickness, because sturgeon is a muscular fish that is well exercised and needs longer cooking to make it palatable.
155ºF Ground Beef, Game
165ºF White meat poultry, Reheating leftovers, Mixtures like stuffing
165-175ºF Dark meat poultry