To operate a hot holding unit, hot food counter or a buffet you should have been trained under HACCP regulations and hold a level 2 food safety certificate or higher.
Whether you’re brushing up for your certificate or just need to double check the facts, we’ve got the essentials covered here.
Before beginning to produce hot food on a commercial scale, you should ensure you have enough space to comfortably cook food and store it in a commercial hot food display.
Once food has been cooked through it needs to stay at a high temperature, so should be immediately put into a hot holding unit which has enough space to accommodate it.
What temperature should I cook food to?
When heating food test it for a core (the thickest part of the food) temperature of 75c or higher for two minutes before putting it into the hot holding
How do I know my temperature probe is working?
Periodically check that your temperature probe is working properly by testing it with ice water (for -1c – +1c) and boiling water (for +99c – +101c)
What are some high risk foods to cook?
All foods should be cooked through to the legal temperature, but these foods in particular should test at 75c or higher for 2 minutes or more.
Keeping food hot until it is served is important as it prevents the growth of harmful bacteria. To keep your customers safe you must ensure the food has been cooked through enough and that it stays at a constant safe temperature until it is eaten.
What temperature should food be held at?
Hot holding food temperature must be 63c or above in suitable hot holding equipment like a bain marie, or a hot food display counter
Where should hot food be stored in a shop or restaurant?
Choose a unit which has an electronically regulated temperature gauge to be sure that the unit keeps food above the legal temperature required. You should always preheat the unit before you start to stock it with food.
How long can hot food be safe to eat
Hot food can be held for up to two hours, and must be wasted after this time if not sold.
Can hot food be displayed?
Hot food can be displayed in a buffet for example where it might be below 63c but this can only be done for two hours maximum. Records must be kept of the start and finish time of the display period.
After this food can either be reheated to above 75c and put back in hot holding only once.
Reheating food means to cook it again, not simply to warm it up. For this reason treat the food as if it is being cooked for the first time. Put it into a fully preheated oven, or if using a microwave ensure it is stirred regularly.
The food will need to be tested for a higher temperature than in the first session of cooking because it is more likely to have been in the danger zone (8c to 75c).
What temperature should food be reheated to?
When reheating food test for a core temperature of 75c before serving or putting back into hot holding
Taking food out of the hot holding unit
Food can be taken out of hot holding to be displayed for up to two hours. This can only be done once after which the food needs to be heated back to above 63c or cooled as quickly as possible to below 8c. You cannot repeat the process of displaying the food and then reheating it
Keeping new and older food separate
Food currently in hot holding shouldn’t be mixed with new food as this could lead to older food staying out for too long
If cooked food is not consumed immediately it can be cooled and stored in the fridge. Food needs to be cooled as quickly as possible to minimise time spent in the danger zone.
You should also ensure the storage fridge is not overloaded with recently cooled food as it will throw off the internal temperature and put other foods inside at risk.
How long can I spend cooling cooked food?
You should only spend a maximum of two hours cooling food to a safe temperature to refrigerate.
How can I cool cooked food more quickly?
There are many ways in which you can speed up the cooling process.
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To learn more about our range of heated food display units and what we can do for you, contact us today on 0151 548 2211.