Each week during September, the Louisiana Restaurant Association, in partnership with the National Restaurant Association, brings you another best-of food safety lesson from the past two decades as part of National Food Safety Month. This year’s theme is “20-Year Anniversary: Top 20 Tips,” highlights the best of the best, or the most important aspects of serving food safely to the American public.
This week’s lesson is Time-Temperature Control. According to ServSafe, the industry gold standard for food safety and sanitation training, the only way to reduce pathogens in food to safe levels is to cook it to its minimum internal temperature. This temperature is different for each food. Once reached, you must hold the food at this temperature for a specific amount of time. If a customer requests a lower temperature, you need to inform them of the potential risk of foodborne illness. Also be aware of special menu restrictions if you serve high-risk populations.
While cooking reduces pathogens in food, it does not destroy spores or toxins they may have produced. You still must handle food correctly before you cook it.
How to Check Temperatures
To make sure the food you are cooking has reached the right temperature, you must know how to take the temperature correctly. Follow these guidelines:
- Pick a thermometer with a probe that is the right size for the food.
- Check the temperature in the thickest part of the food.
- Take at least two readings in different locations.
Here is an activity that you can do with your staff. The answer key can be found at www.foodsafetymonth.com under Activities.