Cooking is the most effective method of making food safe for consumption. This is because heat kills harmful bacteria. The food must be cooked at a safe temperature for a specified time to ensure that sufficient heat is produced to kill harmful bacteria.
It is impractical in most of the food business to use temperature probes and a stop watch (to check time and temperature) every time when a food item is cooked. However, probe thermometers are essential to prove that the methods used in the organization are safe.
A practical method of checking for the cooking methods used in the catering business are safe involves three steps as described below.
Steps to ensure that cooking methods are safe:
- Prove once
- Monitor every time
- Check routinely
Normally the food has to be cooked at 70*C for 2 minutes or 75*C for 30 seconds as per food safety standards.
A simple time-temperature chart can be produced to show that a safe temperature is reached for an adequate time during a cooking process. If the food reaches over 86°C then it is safe. If a lower temperature is attained then the time must be also measured for cooking process to complete.
Every time food items are cooked they should be checked for the temperature to ensure safety. After the food has been cooked the Cook/Chef should use sensory checks such as color, smell, texture, steaming and bubbling to monitor that the product is safe. Probe thermometer to be used to check the cooking temperature of the food, if the temperature goes above 80⁰C then the food is safe from bacterial hazard.
Once a specific process has been proved to work like checking the food with its sensory checks and the cooking temperature check then the business should be confident that cooked product is safe. This should be done daily and recorded to monitor the food safety.