Monday, September 14, 2009

Food Safety - Handling Food

With the diversity of event and feast conditions that we work with in the SCA it makes sense that that a review basic food handling procedures in order to keep food-born illnesses at bay. This article focuses on food temperatures and a few quick tips for handling food outdoors (and in feast kitchens!).

Time and temperature control is incredibly important when it comes to food. If food is not properly held at the right temperature there is a good chance that any present bacteria will multiply on the food and cause a food-born illness. Time and temperature control is especially important when we store food in coolers, are cooking outdoors, and using water of unknown quality to wash our dishes.

Cold Food
-Cold food should be held under 41 degrees
-Cooler Tips:
-Make sure it is clean and sanitized before putting food into it.
-Make sure you have ample ice in your cooler to keep your food cold, and make sure that the coolness from the ice reaches all of your food (keep it distributed or centralized in the cooler).
-Make sure you have a tight seal on your cooler to keep the cold in and the hot out.
-Use a thermometer to make sure your cooler is the right temp-erature. You can get them cheaply at most stores.
-Keep your cooler in a cool shady place (at least as cool and shady as you can find!)
-Keep your food in water-tight containers.

Thawing Food
Four Methods
-Under running water (less than 70 degrees)
-Microwave, if cooking immediately

Internal Cooking Temperatures
165 for 15 seconds Poultry, stuffed meat, stuffing, dishes that
include food that has previously been cooked
155 for 15 seconds ground meat, injected meat, eggs to be hot held
145 for 15 seconds seafood, steaks, chops, eggs served immediately
145 for 4 minutes roasts
135 commercially processed foods, fruits, veggies, grains, legumes.

Holding Food Outdoors - Tips
Temperature sensitive foods should not be held outdoors for more than two hours (or more than one hour if it is above 90 degrees).
-Food that has been set out for service should be thrown away if it passes the time limit on outdoor food holding.
HOT Foods:
-Should be kept above 140 degrees
-Hold on the warm side of the grill or in an insulated container until service.
COLD Foods:
-Should be kept below 40 degrees
-Dishes can be set on/in a container of ice to keep the food cold. -Ensure that water from the melting ice does not contaminate the food.
-Drain off water from ice periodically and replace with fresh ice

Cooling food
-Food must come from 135 to 70 degrees within 2 hours of taking off heat.
-Food must be cooled from 70 – 41 degrees within 4 hours
-Recommended methods for cooling food: ice bath
**This means you have at max 6 hours to cool your food to 41 degrees
*Don’t put hot food directly into your cold cooler!

Reheating food
-Food that is reheated needs to reach 165 degrees within 2 hours
-Reheated food that is not consumed should be thrown away.

Additional Information:
FDA’s web site on picnicking outdoors: