A clean kitchen is a happy kitchen! While certainly not sexy, ensuring food safety and preventing foodborne illnesses is the first step to producing wonderful food.
Pathogens (microorganisms that can contaminate food and cause foodborne illness) thrive in what is known as the Temperature Danger Zone (41 degrees – 135 degrees). Therefore, minimizing the amount of time your foods are in this temperature zone is critical to preventing illness.
Here are additional tips for keeping you and your food safe:
Always wash your hands before touching food (use hot water and dry with a disposable towel) and use clean gloves when you’re working with ready-to eat food (meaning, food that will not be cooked prior to service).
Purchase your ingredients from a reputable vendor and check to ensure it’s in good condition. Never buy something just because it’s a good price…
Store your ingredients correctly:
- If an ingredient requires refrigeration, store it at below 41 degrees. If a food item is frozen, keep it below 0 degrees.
- Store food in your refrigerator in the following top-to-bottom order: ready-to-eat food, seafood, whole cuts of beef and pork, ground meat and ground fish, whole and ground poultry
- Mindfully manage your ingredient inventory by noting expiration dates and using older items first
Wash all your fruits and vegetables (even when you’re not using the peel)
Thaw your frozen foods correctly in one of the following ways:
- In the refrigerator
- Submerge under 70 degree running water
- Microwave and cook immediately after
- Cook while still frozen
- Most importantly, NEVER THAW AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
Cook food to serve at the right temperature:
- Chicken and other stuffed foods – 165 degrees
- Ground meat and seafood – 155 degrees
- Seafood, steaks, chops (any meat other than chicken)– 145 degrees
- Roasts – 145 degrees
- Fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes – 135 degrees
Hold food correctly:
- Hold hot foods at 135 degrees or higher and hold cold food at 41 degrees or lower
- If you serve cold food without temperature control, discard it after 6 hours
- If you serve hot food without temperature control, discard it after 4 hours
- Always reheat your foods to 165 degrees
Cool cooked foods correctly:
- Transfer food into a cool container and place the container into a large pot filled with ice
- DO NOT LEAVE ITEMS AT ROOM TEMPERATURE AND DO NOT PUT HOT ITEMS IN YOUR REFRIGERATOR (this brings the temperature up in your fridge and endangers all your other food items).
- Use separate equipment for items like poultry
- Clean and sanitize your work surface and tools after each task
Avoid physical and chemical contamination:
- Ensure that non-food items don’t slip into your food (i.e. hair, jewelry, pits, bones, glass, etc…)
- Store cleaning substances far from food and correctly labeled
- Do not cook or store food in toxic metals such as lead