Let me explain this for those of you who do not know what Food Danger Zone is.
Basically the bottom line is to Keep Hot Food HOT and Cold Food COLD.
I am sure most of you have encountered a spoiled food product at least once in your life, and if the funny color of it did not warn you to keep your lips off of it, then the strange smell it was emitting probably did!
But there are times that we simply cannot see or smell food that has been spoiled, and this type of spoilage is the most dangerous form.
Salmonella and E.Coli can contaminate food without giving any signs that it is present. There are ways that WE as food preparers and food servers are REQUIRED to process and handle food.
Please check with your local Board Of Health for a deeper look at the laws and rules for food service handlers, and you can even get in on a free class if you check with them to see when they are having their next sessions.
For starters, it is good knowledge to understand that bacteria won’t multiply in temperatures colder than 45 degrees or at a temperatures hotter than 141°F. Where they thrive is between 45°F and 139°F, a region known as the “Food Temperature Danger Zone.”
The key in food preparation is to cool your hot foods to below the danger zone in less than 2 hours, but faster is even better.
(When I was in school the time frame was 2 hours, but it seems in my latest research they are stressing a 1 hour window to compensate for many lackadiasical attitudes there).
So bottom line: Get those hot prep items that are to be turned into cold prep bases for pastry applications cooled fast and stored cold, and if you are serving foods that require a hot serving temperature you must be sure that the food does not drop below 140 degrees F for more than 1 hour, any longer than that the food should be recooked or thrown away.
This is where bacteria growth will rapidly begin to occur. One strange coincidence is that our bodies temperatures are at the premium temperature for bacteria to grow and thrive and multiply. Which is why when food that has even minimal traces of bacteria on it enters our systems we can be inflicted with sever food poisoning almost immediately.
Quick Table for Reference:
165°F and higher:
Most bacteria die within several seconds
139°F to 164°F:
Holding hot foods and sauces. Bacteria aren’t killed, but they don’t multiply, either.
45°F to 139°F:
Food Temperature Danger Zone
Bacteria thrive and multiply. Limit exposure of perishable foods to one hour or less.
33°F to 39°F:
Refrigerated food storage. Bacteria aren’t killed. They multiply, but relatively slowly. Food is safe here for a limited time.
32°F and lower:
Frozen food storage: Bacteria aren’t killed, but they don’t multiply, either.