‘Safe Cooking as Simple as One, Two, Three’

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The way we cook our food is as important as the way we prepare and store it. Inadequate cooking is a common cause of food poisoning. Thorough cooking kills harmful bacteria, but there’s no way to be sure it’s safe without following a few important but simple steps.

Whilst cooking is the most effective method of making food safe, there’s more to it than just ‘sticking it in the oven’; food has to be cooked at the right temperature for a specified time to ensure that sufficient heat is produced to kill the bacteria. But how can this be achieved in practice?

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It is of course unrealistic to expect foodservice businesses to use temperature probes and a stopwatch every time an item is cooked, particularly in a busy restaurant when several hundred items, for instance, may be cooked during a single sitting. Nevertheless, probes are absolutely essential in order to guarantee that the methods used in the kitchen are safe. So how does one go about this? It is, in fact, as simple as one, two, three – prove, monitor and check

Prove that the method being used in the kitchen is correct. A simple time-temperature chart can be produced to show that a safe temperature is reached for an adequate time during the cooking process. If the food is cooked at temperatures in excess of 86o it is safe; if a lower temperature is used the time must be measured. The following is a useful guide for the differences required when cooking at different temperatures.

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  • 65o = 10 minutes
  • 70o = 2 minutes
  • 75o = 30 seconds
  • 86o = instant

Ensure that temperatures are monitored through the use of probes at all times and check regularly.

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Keep food hot after cooking, so it doesn’t fall below 63o. Below this temperature, harmful bacteria may grow. Use a heat source like a chafing dish or a warming tray to keep food from cooling. Always ensure that a safe temperature is maintained and food is kept hot.

In instances where the temperature of hot food on display cannot be kept above 63o, it should be displayed for as little time as possible, with a maximum time of two hours. It is a good idea to display only small quantities at any one time, and never mix new food with food already on display. Furthermore, never use bain-maries to re-heat sauces or other foods. If foods are placed in a bain-marie, they must already be at a temperature above 63o.

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If food isn’t cooked properly, people can become ill with food poisoning, colds, flu and other conditions. Following these simple rules will ensure that this doesn’t happen in your establishment.

  • By Bilal Al Halabi, Al Halabi Ref. & Kitchen Equipment www.al-halabi.com


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