Essential Temperature Control Tips for Safe Food Handling

by | 28-Jul-2023

Maintaining proper food temperatures is one of the most important ways restaurants can prevent foodborne illness. The danger zone for bacterial growth is between 40°F and 140°F, so keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold is critical. With Jolt’s automated temperature monitoring system, restaurants can easily log and track temperatures to ensure food safety. But even with advanced technology, employees need to be trained on proper protocols. Here are some key tips for restaurants to control temperatures and serve safe food:

Monitor Refrigerator/Freezer Temperatures

  • Monitor fridge and freezer temperatures regularly to ensure they are at proper cold holding levels. Refrigerators should maintain 40°F or below. Freezers should stay at 0°F or below.
  • Designate specific employees to check and log unit temperatures at opening, mid-shift, and closing. Jolt helps automate this process and provides alerts when temperatures fall out of range.
  • If temperatures are not in the acceptable range, take immediate corrective action like adjusting the unit or moving foods.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. Limit open times.
  • Do not overstuff units or block vents as airflow is critical for temperature regulation.
  • Use probes with digital displays rather than analog dials for most accurate readings.

Calibrate Thermometers Frequently

  • Inaccurate thermometers defeat the purpose of temperature monitoring. Calibrate digital thermometer probes weekly.
  • To calibrate, place the probe in ice water. Once stabilized, the reading should be 32°F or 0°C. Adjust if needed.
  • Test thermometers used for food by inserting probes into a sample food item. Verify it matches the reading of a calibrated thermometer.

Cook Foods to Safe Internal Temperatures

  • Use a calibrated food thermometer to check internal temps of cooked foods. Color is not an indicator of doneness.
  • Cooking requirements: Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb) 155°F; Ground poultry 165°F; Whole cuts of pork, beef, lamb 145°F; Poultry breasts 165°F; Poultry thighs/legs 175°F; Seafood 145°F.
  • If the internal temperature does not reach the required level after cooking, continue cooking until it reaches the proper temperature.

Hold Hot Foods Properly

  • Hot holding units like steam tables must maintain temperatures above 140°F.
  • Stir thick soups, stews or gravies frequently to maintain even temperatures. Use small batches for better temperature control.
  • Keep lids on hot holding units when not actively serving to retain heat and moisture.

Rapidly Chill Foods

  • Potentially hazardous foods must be cooled from 140°F to 70°F within 2 hours and then to 40°F in 4 more hours.
  • Divide foods into smaller, shallower containers which will cool more quickly than large, deep containers.
  • Use an ice bath, ice paddles, or blast chiller to quickly chill foods down before refrigerating.
  • Stir liquids frequently while chilling to dissipate heat evenly.

Follow Date Marking and Labeling

  • Label all prepared foods kept under refrigeration with name, date prepared, and use by date.
  • Follow date marking requirements – cooked foods must be used within 7 days.
  • Discard expired foods even if they show no signs of spoilage. Do not taste test.

By training staff on proper temperature monitoring, logging, and food safety practices, restaurants can significantly reduce health code violations and foodborne illness risks. Jolt’s digital food safety solution provides an added layer of protection by tracking temps and sending alerts when readings go out of range. Following these protocols will help any restaurant improve safety and pass inspections.