According to our blog stats, some of our most popular search terms revolve around food safety and time-temperature abuse, so I thought in light of the current beef recall, it would be the perfect time to do a little pandering to the crowd and offer a short refresher course in time-temperature abuse and preventing food-borne illnesses like e-coli.
What is time-temperature abuse?
According to Daydots, a supplier of food safety equipment and supplies, time-temperature abuse occurs when food has remained in the temperature danger zone (41°F to 135°F) for more than four hours cumulative throughout the flow of food. The danger zone is the temperature range ideal for the rapid growth and reproduction of dangerous bacteria. Time-temperature abuse can also occur if food is not cooked, cooled, reheated or held properly.
What Are the Dangers?
According to the CDC, escherichia coli O157, or e-coli as it is commonly known, is a bacteria that lives in the intestines of animals and people. Most people get e-coli from food, such as undercooked ground beef.
E-coli causes diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Illness may be mild or severe. Young children are more likely to have severe symptoms, including kidney failure, and death.
How can you prevent e-coli contamination?
A CDC fact sheet lists several ways to help prevent transmission of the e-coli bacteria:
- WASH YOUR HANDS thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before preparing or eating food. WASH YOUR HANDS after contact with animals or their environments (at farms, petting zoos, fairs, even your own backyard)
- COOK meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat that has been needle-tenderized should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160°F/70?C. It’s best to use a thermometer, as color is not a very reliable indicator of “doneness.”
- AVOID raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices (like fresh apple cider).
- AVOID swallowing water when swimming or playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard “kiddie” pools.
- PREVENT cross contamination in food preparation areas by thoroughly washing hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.
Following are the proper cooking temperatures each type of meat requires to reach the safe zone:
Seafood: 145°F for 15 seconds
Steak: 145°F for 15 seconds
Pork: 145°F for 15 seconds
Beef or Pork Roast: 145°F for 4 minutes
Ground Meat: 155°F for 15 seconds
Poultry: 165°F for 15 seconds
There are also a number of tools foodservice professionals can use in the kitchen to ensure that food is properly cooked, cooled and stored properly.
- Single-use,disposable 160°F meat thermomters are ideal for taking temperatures of hamburgers or other ground beef.
- Another tool for measuring the interior temperature of foods is a probe dial thermometer. They are often marked at the correct product insertion depth.
- Because non-disposable thermometers must be sanitized after each use, a handy tool provided in some kits is a sanitizing tube which doubles as a protective case for the thermometer.
- A more advanced unit is the HACCP compliant waterproof, thermocouple cooking thermometer, which features a probe, digital temperature readout, daily task reminders and HACCP alerts for when food has fallen into temperature danger zones.
In addition to these tools, color-coded cutting boards, plastic gloves and hand-washing systems can also help prevent the spread of bacteria in the kitchen. For more information on the HACCP system of food safety visit FDA.gov, and for more food safety products visit CentralRestaurant.com