Food Safety Tips for Time and Temperature Controlled Foods
Time/temperature control for safety TCS is a method of consistent temperature monitoring and analysis utilized to decrease or eliminate dangerous pathogen growth by controlling the temperature of foods.
TCS can help food industry professionals to ascertain if a food product is potentially contaminated due to bacteria growth and is therefore unsafe for consumption.
If food is not held at the appropriate temperature, pathogenic bacteria may reproduce rapidly, greatly increasing the risk of foodborne illness and safety compliance violations.
Thankfully, there are methods that food industry professionals can undertake to decrease the proliferation and transmission of bacteria, including strict and consistent tracking of food temperature.
Mitigating bacterial growth through TCS will protect customers from foodborne illnesses. Bacteria growth occurs most rapidly in the danger zone TDZ which ranges between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. In this zone, bacteria doubles in number in as quickly as 20 minutes.
Regardless if you are cooking, preparing, or holding food, food industry professionals must vigilantly track and control temperatures in order to avoid the temperature danger zone and provide the safest food products possible.
Benefits of controlling food temperature include-
- Optimization and monitoring of food shelf life
- Swift awareness of refrigeration or malfunctions while storing food
- Improving food safety skills among food industry professionals
- Less food waste production
- Protection of customers against food outbreaks and decreasing foodborne illness transmission
- Producing the best results possible during health inspections and internal quality checks
- Producing safer and better quality food
Time control is a method of consistent temperature monitoring and analysis utilized to decrease or eliminate dangerous pathogen growth by mitigating the amount of time food spends in dangerous temperature zones.
It is the responsibility of all food industry professionals to prepare, hold, and transfer foods outside of the TDZ as much as possible. As a general rule, foods should enter their proper zones within 2 hours. For cold foods, the safe zone is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. For hot foods, the safe zone is above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Even in cooler climates, perishables should never be left out for over two hours. Your food should not be in the temperature danger zone for more than an hour if you are operating in an environment that is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit as warmer environments encourage rapid bacteria growth. The easiest way to keep food out of TDZ is by regular and frequent monitoring.
Below are some important time control tips to avoid the TDZ by proper TCS implementation-
- Monitor your refrigerator or freezer consistently. Consider employing a secondary refrigerator or freezer thermometer, as the thermometer built into your appliance may not be accurate
- Keep a written record including the thermometer reading and the exact time observed
- Clean and calibrate thermometers regularly
- Frequently test employee understanding of proper thermometer handling and usage
Be mindful of time control during the cooking, cooling, and reheating of potentially hazardous foods. Always cool food as rapidly as possible to avoid time spent in TDZ.
When cooling, bring food at 135 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit within two hours. Within an additional four hours, bring food from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Within six hours, food must be below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
Likewise, always heat food as rapidly as possible to limit the amount of time spent in the temperature danger zone. Placing hot food directly into a refrigerator or freezer is never recommended.
Doing so risks other foods in your refrigerator or freezer entering TDZ and developing bacteria. When reheating, make sure to food reaches 165 Fahrenheit within two hours of being placed in a hot holding unit.
What Foods Require Time/Temperature Control?
TCS foods are foods that provide an especially ideal environment for rapid bacterial growth and require even more vigilant time temperature control.
Common TCS foods include-
- Meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, and crustaceans
- Egg and dairy
- Tofu and other soy products
- Raw sprouts and cooked vegetables
- Cooked starches including potato, pasta, rice and beans
- Cooked or recycled dehydrated onions
- Cut melons, tomatoes, leafy greens, and garlic in oil
- Foods that have high carbohydrate and protein levels
- Foods that are neutral or slightly acidic
- Foods that contain moisture
Any types of food that contain any of these ingredients or properties, ranging from pastries to prepared salads, should be handled according to TCS protocols.
Below are some tips to ensure optimal TCS-
- Maintain updated temperature logs- Consider which temperature log method is right for your business and maintain it diligently.
- Check incoming shipments- When so many foods are coming from the same sources, it is especially important to maintain vigilant tracking of temperatures throughout the food supply chain to decrease food outbreaks.
Only work with third parties who use proper TCS while transporting and storing food. Before you accept shipments, ensure the products are at a safe temperature and refuse any products that arrive in the temperature danger zone range
- Store deliveries as soon as possible- Schedule deliveries during downtimes to ensure food doesn't sit outside proper storage longer than absolutely necessary. Dispose of any foods that have been in TDZ too long.
- Implement a system- When integrating deliveries into the freezer, divide food into smaller quantities in order to achieve optimal thawing times. When preparing food, never exceed a batch size you can serve within 2-4 hours.
- Temperature control (TCS) is a method of consistent temperature monitoring and analysis utilized to decrease or eliminate dangerous pathogen growth by controlling the temperature of foods.
- TCS foods are foods that provide an especially ideal environment for rapid bacterial growth and require even more vigilance.
- Time control is a method of consistent temperature monitoring and analysis utilized to decrease or eliminate dangerous pathogen growth by mitigating the amount of time food spends in dangerous temperature zones.
- Proper implementation of TCS will decrease food wastefulness, prevent food outbreaks, and increase overall business efficiency.
- Food industry professionals must utilize TCS for safety in order to create the safest and highest quality food products possible.
- Bacteria grow most rapidly in the danger zone, which ranges between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit.