Christmas Cooking in the Festive Season

The 4Cs of Christmas Cooking

When it comes to Christmas cooking, each person has their own family traditions.  Cooking a bird is a tradition in many countries with turkey and goose being favorites on the menu. Often preparations for Christmas Day catering start well in advance.  In Britain, the traditional day to make a Christmas Pudding is Stir-Up Sunday, the last Sunday before the Advent Season.  It’s a good opportunity to teach children how to weigh out ingredients and in many households, each person gets to stir the mix and make a wish. It would be easy to think of the 4Cs of Christmas cooking as: Christmas Cake Christmas Pudding Crackers Chilled Champagne Christmas is one of the peak times of the year for catering establishments and in homes as the Party Season gets into fully swing.  It’s a time of parties and celebrations with … Read more

Hot and Cold Water Systems

Legionella Control in Hot and Cold Water Systems

Hot and cold water systems in buildings supply fresh water for cooking and cleaning and other functions such as heating. Systems that supply hot and cold water range in size scale and complexity. Water is usually distributed throughout buildings through a pipework system. Hot and cold water systems need careful management, particularly in public buildings such as healthcare premises to reduce the risk exposure to legionella. Legionella bacteria is responsible for Legionnaires’ disease, an uncommon but serious lung condition.  It can be caught by inhaling droplets of water from hot tubs, shower heads or heating systems. Temperature control of hot and cold water systems plays an important part in reducing the risk of legionella bacteria within the system. Where possible, cold water systems should be maintained at a temperature below 20°C.  Stored hot water temperatures should be at least 60°C.  … Read more

Data Loggers

What is a data logger?

Comark have a range of data loggers; compact, electronic instruments that record measurements at set intervals over a fixed or unlimited period. Depending on your requirement, data loggers range from models that can be downloaded after a single trip or more sophisticated wireless devices that can be left in place continuously. Your application will dictate which model you choose as the requirements for measuring a consignment in transport is very different to the continuous monitoring of storage areas in food and healthcare applications. A data logger may be a single unit, stand-alone device with internal sensors that can be downloaded manually, through to high-tech, wireless instruments with internal plus one or more external sensors. The basic explanation is that a data logger is a device with a sensor to measure something and a computer chip to store it prior to … Read more

How to check commercial dishwasher temperatures

Commercial Dishwasher Temperatures

High temperature commercial dishwashers use hot water that has reached a high enough temperature to remove food remnants and bacteria.  The correct commercial dishwasher temperatures mean that table and cookware is by hot water. Kitchen staff spend much of their time documenting food storage and cooking temperatures as part of their HACCP plan.  Measuring water temperatures of your dishwasher cycles is just as important to prove to that the correct safe-guards are in place. In a 2011 germ study conducted by the US based National Sanitation Federation (NSF), it was found that the place in most homes with the highest number of germs wasn’t the bathroom, but the kitchen! Washing hands, proper cleaning, of kitchen work surfaces and following food handling guidelines, are important ways to protect against food-borne illness.  A vital measure is to ensure that dishes and cookware, … Read more

Thanksgiving Turkey

Cooking a Thanksgiving Turkey

The holidays are fast approaching.  It is a time when family and friends gather looking forward to sharing traditional holiday fare of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and pie. Family traditions often dictate how a turkey is cooked.  Roasting the turkey is a top favorite although the details may differ from family to family.  Maybe it is soaked in brine overnight, it might be a spice mix rubbed in the skin or the frequency of basting with butter during the roasting time.  However, it is prepared, there is no doubting that the Thanksgiving turkey is the star of the festive table. If you buy a frozen turkey, the USDA website has some easy to follow guidelines for the safe thawing of your Thanksgiving turkey.  It’s important to check that the turkey does not reach the food danger zone of … Read more

3 Food Safety Tips for your Halloween Party

Halloween is observed in a number of countries on the 31 October. Otherwise known as All Saints’ Eve it marks part of the three-day observance of Hallowtide which runs from 31 October to 2 November annually. Modern Halloween celebrations include dressing up for costume parties, decorating with pumpkins carved into jack-o-lanterns, spooky decorations and games such as apple bobbing. It’s a good excuse for friends, family and community groups to hold a party.  Children visit homes in their playing ‘trick or treat’. If you are catering for a crowd, follow these food safety tips for your Halloween Party. Refrigerate If serving foods like salads or dips at your party, bear in mind that they are particularly at risk of spreading food-borne illness.  Don’t leave foods like this standing at room temperature for too long before being served.  It’s best to … Read more

Temperature Mapping for temperature controlled storage

4 Steps to Temperature Mapping

Why Map? Temperature mapping, or thermal mapping as it is also known, provides food and pharmaceutical companies with the confidence that their storage conditions comply with regulatory requirements.  Even minor fluctuations in temperature could lead to product safety and compliance issues meaning that costly inventory is lost. Periodic temperature mapping of storage conditions is critical for compliance in MHRA or FDA regulated applications.  Compliance means there is increased emphasis on the need to perform GMP mapping on temperature controlled storage where drugs, vaccines and other pharmaceutical products are stored and it can be a requirement for licencing a product. When to Map The temperature mapping of storage areas should be carried out before the storage area is used.  In fact, GDP Guidelines Chapter 3.2.1 quote: “An initial temperature mapping exercise should be carried out on the storage area before use, … Read more

What is HACCP?

How Does HACCP Protect You and Your Food?

What does HACCP mean? How does it safeguard your food? What are the obligations placed on the food industry to ensure compliance?   HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points. Let’s look at this food safety system and see how it works. Set up by the European Union HACCP has been mandatory in the food industry since 2006, HACCP origins date back to the 1960’s space program where it was decided early in the process that maintaining food for prolonged periods of time in space was essential. It was defined as an overview more than ten years before that by the World Health Organisation’s Codex Alimentarius Commission.   The principles behind HACCP are best described as PDCA. Plan, Do, Check Act. A terminology that should be familiar to those familiar with process control. This means that for most businesses … Read more

Better breakfast month promotes a healthy meal to start the day

Better Breakfast Month

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day   It’s true. After waking, perhaps 8 to 10 hours after last eating, breakfast gets the body going and fuels you for the day to come. It starts the metabolism and reduces the chance of craving carbohydrate snacks later in the morning. Throughout September Better Breakfast Month promotes the benefits of a healthy start to the day. The science behind breakfast is quite conclusive. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was a comprehensive review of over 4,000 adults of all ages and showed the benefits of a good breakfast. For example, the body mass index (BMI) of a woman who eats breakfast is under 25.  This is almost 2 points under the national average. Missing breakfast is not good for your health and is not an effective weight loss strategy. … Read more

How to defrost chicken

How to defrost chicken safely

To avoid food poisoning it is essential that food be defrosted safely before use. It is especially important to know how to defrost chicken safely. Why is this step so important? There are two issues to consider when  defrosting food, both of which will affect the quality of the food once prepared and, more important, add a risk of food poisoning to whoever eats the food. If you want to know how to defrost chicken and other foods, read on. The first issue is if the food is not properly defrosted.  For example, joint of meat or poultry may that is not properly defrosted may appear ready to cook from the outside, but the meat at the may still contain ice crystals. This means that, after following the cooking instructions for a de-frosted piece of meat of that type, the … Read more

Oven thermometer to check cooking temperature

Choosing an Oven Thermometer

An Overview of Oven Thermometers There are two main types of oven thermometer. Pre-installed oven thermometers, as the name suggests are built into an oven and, in most cases have a temperature display on the outside control surface of the oven. A stand-alone oven thermometer is bought separately and placed in the oven. These standalone devices come in many different shapes and sizes. Take a look a sample of suitable Comark thermometers here. Oven thermometers work on what is known as “point principle” They take a reading from a particular part of the oven. They are positioned and calibrated to give an accurate reading of the cooking temperature of the oven. This is an important distinction. The heating element, oven walls and oven door might all have slightly different temperatures that vary up and down from the cooking temperature. Therefore, … Read more

C12 Thermometer used on MasterChef

Comark’s C12 Thermometer on Celebrity MasterChef

It’s always exciting to see our products being used and this week’s spot was no exception.  One of our eagle-eyed staff members spotted the C12 HACCP Thermometer being used to check meat temperatures on Celebrity MasterChef. This handy thermometer was seen in action at Smith & Wollensky, the iconic American fine dining steakhouse in London, being used to check cooked meat temperatures.  Comark’s C12 HACCP Thermometer can be used for core food checks to make sure that safe minimum internal temperatures have been reached to avoid food poisoning.  It is a great choice for any kitchen and perfect for catering, food service and other food uses. If you are a budding MasterChef, you might be interested to know that the C12 HACCP thermometer is supplied complete with a penetration probe for core food temperature measurements and an air probe for measuring … Read more