Accurate measurement and control of temperature is critical to the quality and safety of food products.
Throughout the supply chain of any food business there will be critical control points (CCPs) identified in the HACCP plan. There will be temperature safety checks at each of the CCPs identified.
1. Why is temperature control important?
Harmful bacteria are a hazard present in many foods handled in homes, food service and food processing businesses. Growth can be controlled by keeping food hot or cold. Harmful bacteria can be reduced or destroyed by cooking or reheating to the correct temperature.
2. Handling temperatures on receipt of goods
When accepting deliveries of food quick temperature safety checks can be made with infrared thermometers. These thermometers take surface temperatures and do not damage packs. They are particularly useful for checking frozen goods which may be difficult to penetrate with a probe. Only accept chilled food delivered at your specified temperature, e.g. 5°C or below. Frozen food should ideally be delivered at -18°C or below. Alternatively, a thermometer with a “between pack” probe can be used to measure products without damaging the packaging.
3. Storing foods at the correct temperature
Chilled food should be stored at 5°C or below and for frozen food the safe temperature recommended is -18°C or below. Thermometers or data loggers can be located in refrigerators, chillers, cold displays and freezers. You can confirm that storage equipment is operating correctly at the right temperature with regular checks.
4. Getting it right when cooking
When taking temperatures during cooking, the thickest part of meat or poultry should be checked using a thermometer with a probe. The centre should reach a suitably high temperature – 75°C or above. Casseroles, soups and other liquid foods should be stirred to distribute the heat before probing.
5. Hot holding or cooling food safely
When food is not held or stored correctly food poisoning bacteria can grow. Foods destined for hot cabinets or pre-heated bain-maries should be placed in the appropriate equipment as soon as possible after reheating or cooking. All foods which are held hot before serving must be kept above -75°C. A dial thermometer or data logger can be used to monitor the temperature in the cabinet. Temperature checks using a thermometer with a probe should be done regularly as a back-up check on stored foods.