Maintaining proper food temperature should be a constant process in your food truck or commercial kitchen, from the time it is delivered to the time it arrives in your customer’s hands.
The food “Danger Zone” is when bacteria can be reintroduced to food after it is safely cooked. Allowing bacteria to grow on food can lead to serious health problems if consumed by a customer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that approximately 1 out of every 6 Americans becomes ill each year due to foodborne diseases. Furthermore, 128,000 cases lead to hospitalization each year and 3,000 deaths are the result of foodborne illnesses.
Because of this food truck owners need to maintain proper food temperature in all of the foods that are served. Today we’ll give you a quick 3 step process to keep your customers safe.
Three Step Proper Food Temperature Monitoring Process
When the delivery truck arrives, or when you get it to your commercial kitchen from the grocery store, immediately check food products for temperature. If it is delivered, reject any food that arrives above 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you have ensured that the food has arrived in good condition, store it immediately.
Use a good thermometer
Make sure that high quality thermometers are available to your staff to help with the proper food temperature monitoring process. Make sure you and your staff are trained in proper thermometer use:
- Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of what you want to measure, and make sure the tip is in about the center.
- Wait about five minutes for a proper reading. Newer digital thermometers will beep when they have reached the absolute temperature.
- Sanitize the thermometer before and after each use.
- Constantly monitor food temperatures. Develop and post a temperature monitoring schedule for all the different food types you are currently storing and prepping.
- Train other employees to help you maintain this schedule. Stay out of the food temperature danger zone between 41 degrees and 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
- For heated foods, post a safe temperature chart for cooked foods and train your employees to properly use a thermometer to check food temps during heating.
Safe Chilling & Heating Instructions
Keeping out of the 41 degrees to 145 degrees danger zone should be the top priority for all foods and ingredients. The one exception to the danger zone rule is freshly cooked food, which can be held at 140 degrees before serving, although you should establish a deadline for hot held food after which you should either rapidly chill and store the product or dispose of it.
If you are chilling food that was heated, chilling it rapidly is the best way to prevent bacterial growth. Use a blast chiller or a cold paddle to bring food temperature down quickly.
This also retains maximum food freshness. After food has been rapidly cooled, store it in a commercial refrigerator or freezer. Use storage containers to maintain freshness.
If you are serving cold foods, use a chill pan with built-in refrigerant and ice to ensure food maintains the correct temperature. Monitor proper food temperature to make sure food items are not rising above 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do you have additional processes in place in your food truck to monitor proper food temperature? We’d love to hear your thoughts to share with our readers. You can share them privately via email or publicly through Facebook or Twitter.