Time and temperature have huge roles in preventing and accelerating food spoilage. It’s due to the microorganisms that reproduce and release toxins that lead to food borne illnesses. It’s true that anything can happen if you just give it enough time especially when it comes to food spoilage and poisoning.
To minimise the risk of dangerous microorganisms or toxins, we have to keep watch of the time and temperature. Although it helps to keep the storage areas and containers clean in reducing the risk, bacteria and other microorganisms are just resilient and persistent.
About potentially hazardous food
Persistence is a defining characteristic of microbes and other things that might harm us. They’re especially persistent if there’s a rich food source and the environment allows the harmful microbes to thrive. This is the case with potentially hazardous food including the following:
● Raw and cooked poultry or meat
● Foods containing eggs whether they’re cooked or raw
● Dairy products
Contamination is always a risk because of exposure, pests and low levels of hygiene and sanitation. This can be easily prevented by maintaining the cleanliness of the sites of contact and the immediate surroundings.
On the other hand, it can be a challenge though when it comes to time and temperature. Temperatures higher than 5℃ can be hazardous because of increased microbial and enzymatic activities. This means more toxins and microorganisms will be in the food and the effects get worse as time goes on. Within 2 to 4 hours the food might still be safe to consume (e.g. cooling food within 2 hours from 60℃ to 21℃, cool from 21℃ to 5℃ within 4 hours). Harmful microorganisms grow fastest between 21℃ and 60℃ but good thing is that the risk of growth slows down as temperature decreases.
It’s a challenge to be mindful of the time and temperature control especially if the business is doing good or there’s a lot going on in the food premise. The entire operation even gets more complex especially when there’s a wide variety of food selection and preparation in the business.
Tips on storing food safely
To make it somehow easier, it’s always good to pay attention to temperature control. It’s hard to keep track of how long the food’s been outside or on display. But you can easily keep track or maintain temperature levels when the food is in storage. Regularly maintaining and servicing the refrigerators could help in good temperature control. It’s also good to directly check the temperature through a thermometer for further assurance.
Moreover, food and ingredients also spend a significant amount of time in transit. It’s like the goods are still in storage but the difference is that it’s in motion and arriving at the destination. Time and temperature are still at play here because exposure to the “temperature danger zone” between 5℃ and 60℃ for a significant amount of time can happen while the food and ingredients are in transit.