How Important is Temperature Control in Ensuring Food Safety
It’s estimated that 4.1 million Australians are being affected by food poisoning each year. As a result, preventing foodborne illnesses is a priority not just of the government, but also of the private establishments that process, prepare, handle and serve food.
Often food poisoning is caused by the introduction of harmful bugs (e.g. houseflies) and contact with contaminated surfaces. Microbes can get transferred from one place to another and they can thrive in food surfaces wherein they can get their nutrients. These microbes produce toxins that are harmful to human health.
Preventing serious food contamination
Although exposure to air during food handling, packing and serving introduces microbes (and possibly bugs) to the food, it’s important to limit the potential harm and damage. This can be accomplished through the following:
- Cooking food thoroughly
- Applying excellent hygiene in the workplace (especially when it comes to washing hands)
- Keeping the storage areas and surfaces clean (including the utensils and cookware) where foods are being prepared
- Checking that food packaging is undamaged (no way for insects to enter or for prolonged exposure to air to occur)
- Making sure that food isn’t stored in warm or humid areas or in places with direct sunlight
- Making sure the refrigerator is regularly maintained and serviced
It’s especially the case if you’re dealing with potentially hazardous foods such as:
- Raw and cooked meat/poultry
- Foods that contain raw or cooked meat/poultry (e.g. burgers, kebabs)
- Protein-rich foods (foods that contain eggs, nuts or beans)
- Dairy products (including foods that have dairies in and on them including milk and desserts)
- Seafood and foods containing seafood (e.g. sushi)
- Prepared fruits and vegetables (e.g. cut melons)
- Cooked rice and pasta (fresh pasta is also potentially hazardous)
Cleanliness is crucial in preventing food contamination and food poisoning. Another crucial factor is proper temperature control especially in those potentially hazardous foods.
The danger zone is said to be between 5℃ and 60℃ where microbes can thrive. Above 60℃ microbes can be killed. Below 5℃ microbial and enzymatic activities can be significantly slowed down.
According to the NSW Food Authority, here are the key tips in keeping food safe:
- Keep it cold
- Keep it clean
- Keep it hot
- Check the label
When it comes to temperature control (keep it cold), it’s important to keep the fridge below 5℃ and don’t consume food that’s meant to be in the fridge if it’s been left out for 2 hours or more. This is an example of the 2-hour / 4-hour rule when dealing with potentially hazardous food:
- Food held between 5℃ and 60℃ for less than 2 hours can be used, sold or put back in the refrigerator to use later.
- Food held between 5℃ and 60℃ for 2-4 hours can still be used or sold, but can’t be put back in the fridge.
- Food held between 5℃ and 60℃ for 4 hours or more must be thrown away.
Proper temperature control (and also being mindful of the time) can effectively prevent food poisoning. It works because lower temperatures can slow down microbial and enzymatic activities. This limits the amount of toxins being produced and the rate of multiplication of the bacteria.
Tight temperature control is our priority here at Cooltrans. Many companies and small businesses choose our refrigerated delivery service because of our reliability and commitment to the highest safety standards. Our 15+ NSW Food Safe vehicles (ranging from 1-pallet vans to 8-pallet trucks) and refrigeration facilities are regularly being serviced and maintained to ensure tight temperature control. Contact us today if you require more information.