Food For Thought Newsletter
Warm Weather Is Here!
Certain foods must be time and temperature controlled for safety (TCS). TCS food must be kept at 41°F or less to prevent bacteria from growing and making people sick. As warm weather approaches and temperatures rise in the kitchen, refrigerators may struggle to maintain 41°F. Most refrigerators run best at room temperatures below 85°F. Now is the time to take steps to keep your refrigerators running properly and to keep your food at a safe storage temperature. Here are three steps to help keep your refrigerators cold and the food at the safe temperature:
- Service refrigerators and freezers ahead of the hot summer season. If a refrigerator reads 41°F two hours before opening, it is doubtful that it will keep that temperature during the busy lunch rush. Set the temperature at 35° to 37°F when the refrigerators are not in use. Check refrigerator temperatures first thing in the morning. If refrigerators are set at the correct temperature, they should keep food at 41°F or less, even during the busy times of business.
- Ensure all refrigerators have a built-in temperature gauge or an internal thermometer. Refrigeration units under and across from the cookline can be a challenge because they may have to work harder to maintain 41°F. Check temperatures throughout the day. A temperature log is a good active managerial control that can be used to track refrigerator and food temperatures during the day. Your area inspector can help you set up a temperature log, if necessary. If food temperatures are going up, adjust the refrigerator setting and temporarily move the food to a refrigerator that will cool the food quickly and keep the proper temperature.
- Refrigerate food right away. When food is delivered, put it in the refrigerator quickly. When left unrefrigerated, the food temperature will quickly move into the "danger zone" (41° - 135°F). In the "danger zone," foodborne bacteria can grow more quickly and possibly make people sick.
Proper refrigeration and temperature control of foods are important steps in reducing the risk of foodborne illness. The Health Department encourages you to take time now to make sure your refrigerators will get you through the rest of the summer season.