Hot Food Safety – Keeping Foods Hot When They Should Be
Hot food safety involves temperature control, in other words keeping hot foods hot when they are supposed to be hot.
Since we know that food poisoning can occur in foods that are outside of the refrigerator at between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit it is important to keep hot foods hot when they are supposed to be hot at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. So foods being cooked should at least reach a minimum temperature of 140 degrees to be considered thoroughly cooked and depending on the type of food being cooked. Therefore:
• Hot foods should not be allowed to remain at room temperature and must be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking; this includes the time it takes to prepare the food.
• Foods that are being prepared and that are perishable shouldn’t ever be partially cooked and then refrigerated for completion of cooking later, because during partial cooking foods may not reach a high enough temperature to destroy bacteria, since bacteria begins to grow and thrive at room temperature or in lukewarm food.
• Meat or poultry should be roasted at 325 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, since lower temperatures can begin bacteria growth before cooking is completed. Meat and poultry should be cooked completely and a cooking thermometer should be used to check the temperature of the meat or poultry to make sure that it has reached the desired temperature to be considered done.
• Cooked foods should be kept hot or refrigerated until ready to serve.
• When reheating leftovers they should be stirred often and heated until 165 degrees Fahrenheit. By covering heating leftovers this allows the food to become hot in the center.
For hot food safety charts with doneness temperatures for different foods click on the link to foodsafety.gov
For some great sections on hot food safety some great references are:
• The Taste of Home Cookbook – All New Edition from Taste of Home Books, Reiman Media Group
• The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book, Edited by Susan Westmoreland, Hearst Books, New York
• Betty Crocker Cookbook – New Edition, by Wiley Publishing, Inc.
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