Restaurant Inspection Database

Violation Explanation

Official Report Wording, Item  #03

Temperature control for potentially hazardous foods:
Foods maintained at <41°F or >135°F. Cool quickly from 135°F to 70°F in two hours and from 70°F to 41°F in four hours. Use shallow, uncovered pans in refrigerator or ice bath with frequent stirring. NO COOLING AT ROOM TEMPERATURE!

1. Cooling. (20 pts.)

2. Rapid reheat >165o F. (20 pts.)

3. Hot holding >135o F. (15 pts.)

4. Cold holding <41o F. (15 pts.)

5. Adequate cooking. (20 pts.)

6. Time as a control. (15 pts.)

7. Product thermometers used, accurate. (5 pts.)

PUBLIC HEALTH REASON

One of the most frequent causes of foodborne illness is holding food at unsafe temperatures, between 41°F and 135°F, for extended periods of time. Foods that require temperature control to prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria are called “potentially hazardous foods”. Potentially hazardous foods include but are not limited to meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, cooked vegetables, cooked grains and cut melons. Health Department inspections stress temperature control of potentially hazardous food.

1. Proper cooling means lowering the temperature of food quickly to prevent bacterial growth. Cooling practices that allow foods to remain between 135°F and 41°F for prolonged periods of time are one of the most frequent causes of foodborne illness. Extended cooling processes allow disease-causing bacteria to grow in potentially hazardous foods. Foods are required to be quickly cooled from 135°F to 70°F in 2 hours and from 70°F to 41°F in an additional 4 hours. These required cooling times are based on how fast bacteria grow. By meeting the required cooling parameters, disease-causing bacteria will not grow to dangerous levels.

Food establishments are encouraged to cool foods in a refrigerator using uncovered, shallow metal pans that are no more than two to three inches deep, or in an ice bath with frequent stirring. A food probe thermometer should be used to verify foods are cooled within the required times. Foods should never be left out at room temperature to cool, or cooled in large, deep containers even when under refrigeration.

2. The thorough cooking or heating of food provides a high degree of assurance that disease-causing microorganisms in food will be destroyed. Some bacteria however form heat-resistant spores such as Clostridium perfringens, which allow the bacteria to survive the cooking process. If cooked foods are not quickly cooled, these spore-forming bacteria can become vegetative cells and can grow to dangerous levels. Cooked foods can also get contaminated during storage or preparation. To kill vegetative bacteria, foods must be quickly reheated to temperatures greater than 165°F. Food establishments must quickly reheat foods to greater than 165°F in order to hot hold foods above 135°F during service to prevent the growth of microorganisms.

3. Disease-causing bacteria will grow in foods held at temperatures between 41°F and 135°F for extended periods of time. Food establishments are required to hold hot foods at 135°F or above to prevent bacterial growth.

4. Disease-causing bacteria will grow in foods held at temperatures between 41°F and 135°F for extended periods of time. Cold holding temperatures generally do not kill bacteria that may be present in food, but will slow or inhibit their growth. Food establishments are required to cold hold foods at 41°F or below.

5. Thorough cooking can be the most effective step in eliminating microorganisms in food. Unless ordered by the consumer, food establishments are required to cook: poultry and stuffed meats, pasta and fish to 165°F; ground meats to 155°F; game meats to 145°F; eggs, pork, lamb, fish and other beef cuts to 145°F; fruits and vegetables that are to be hot held to 135°F, and rare meat roasts to 130°F.

6. Disease-causing bacteria will grow in foods held at temperatures between 41°F and 135°F for extended periods of time. If a food is between these temperatures for a short time, no significant bacterial growth should occur. Food establishments are allowed to use time rather than temperature to control bacterial growth. When using time as a control, the foods that are removed from temperature control must be served or discarded after 4 hours. In order for food establishments to use time as a control, they must develop a plan that outlines food handling procedures that includes: a list of foods that will be monitored using time as a control, how the food will be marked to indicate the time when the item is removed from temperature control, and the time it will be disposed of.

7. Because food temperature control is so critical in assuring food safety, all food establishments must have and must use an accurate food probe thermometer to check food temperatures. Food product thermometers are required to have a temperature range of 0 - 220°F. The thermometers must be accurate to +/-2°F. Establishments that cook thin meats, such as small hamburger patties, must also have small diameter thermometer probes capable of accurately measuring the temperature of these meats. Food service workers need to use food product thermometers to verify foods are cooked or maintained at required temperatures.

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