TEMPERATURE CONTROL RULES Why is Temperature Control important?
Temperature control is important because harmful bacteria are a hazard present in many of the foods handled in catering businesses.
They also tend to multiply rapidly at temperatures above 5c, the higher temperature and longer the time exposed to the temperature the faster the bacteria growth . As bacteria are invisible to the naked eye and cannot be physically removed from food, all we can do is control their numbers.
There are two main ways in which temperature can be used to achieve this:
- We can destroy harmful bacteria, or reduce their numbers, by cooking or reheating and
- We can control their growth by keeping food hot or cold.
Lets look at cold.
The following practices are recommended to keep food safe. Your refrigerator should operate at an average of 5°C or below. These temperatures would then be the Critical Limits for Refrigerated Storage. Refrigeration of food temperature of 5°C or below is effective in controlling the quick multiplication of most bacteria in perishable food. It is recommended practice to operate refrigerators and chills at 5°C or below. Freezing of food should be done at -18c.
Time and temperature.
Just because food storage exceeds 5c for a short period of time does not mean that bacteria instantly grows at a rapid rate, your refrigeration being above temperature for a SHORT period of time is not dangerous.
Scientifically it has been shown that bacteria on high risk foods rapidly increase when the food is above 5c for periods exceeding 2 hrs, at 4hrs the food should be discarded.
The issue arises when refrigeration is cool but not cold! Eg A prep cabinet running at an average of 8-10c instead of below 5c. Whilst the bacteria won’t grow as quickly as if the food was at room temperature it will grow and at a dangerous rate, and this is where most hospitality operations get caught out.
I see so many refrigeration units that constantly run in the 5-10c zone, it’s scary. And to be honest in a hot kitchen environment it’s often difficult for small refrigeration units that have doors constantly being open and closed, especially with ingredient wells in the top to maintain correct temperature.
If you are only checking your refrigeration twice a day then you are assuming or guessing that the other 99% of the day the temperature is correct.
Aside from correct food safe procedure, ensuring proper refrigeration temperatures can result in improved shelf life of product and general quality of.
Food manufacturers and major suppliers don’t make guesses or assumptions that all their refrigeration temperatures are correct 24/7/365, they use digital technology to ensure it is, and it’s also far more economical to have technology to this and provided accurate records than employ staff to do so.
Using technology to help Chef’s
The ‘IOT’ world (internet of things) has arrived and its now entering the commercial kitchen space. Basically IOT means things that are connected to the internet , and hopefully add value to our lives.
We can now add temperature sensors to all refrigerated storage areas in the kitchen and have those sensors talk to the internet.
We can tell the sensors how often to talk to the internet and when to be alarmed about a set of data. From that we can direct the sensor to do something.
Basically if the sensor see’s that your coolroom is running at a temperature deemed to be too high for too long we can ask it to tell us, in most cases many people, normally via SMS text and or email to a smart phone/pad or computer.
As long as the customer has access to the internet they can see current and past history of temperatures of their entire site at the push of a button form anywhere in the world!
With this information the kitchen manager/chef/food safety supervisor can make a decision on what needs to be done, could be a simple as shut the coolroom door properly , or check the food and perhaps discard.
The sensors collect massive amount of data, basically they are checking your refrigeration temperatures 24/7/365 and then they are storing this data for future access or better still to produce a weekly report as evidence that food storage temperatures are at correct temperatures.
The minimum standard in Hospitality is to collect data samples twice a day , in some health food service sectors it maybe every four hours. If you have a lot of fridges this can be a very costly exercise, time wise, time=money. Why pay staff do do it (that may or may not do it correctly if at all!) when technology can do it for you?
Not only can technology do the task for a fraction of the costs of human labour it does it ‘independently ‘ , ‘accurately’ and with lots of data and evidence that can actually be called a ‘fair sample’ of evidence. Twice a day is nothing, it’s less than 1% of the day the other 99% is unaccounted for !
For further information on automated temperature monitoring visit www.i-temp.com.au