The Flow of Food
Holding -- Serving


The food that is served on our tables starts from farms, ranches, processing and packaging plants, trains and trucks and finally the food establishments. Then the flow of food starts in the operations from purchasing, receiving, storing, preparing, to thawing, cooking cooling, reheating and finally holding and serving. By now we know that there are five risk factors or food handling mistakes that can cause a foodborne illness. They are 1. Purchasing food from unsafe suppliers2. Not cooking food correctly 3. Not holding food correctly 4. Using contaminated equipment 5. Practicing poor personal hygiene. Here we summarize how to hold cold and hot food correctly and how to serve food correctly.

1. Holding Food

- The food held for service is in danger of time-temperature abuse and contamination.
- Policies and procedures must be made to prevent the abuse and contamination.

Guidelines for Holding Food:
- Cover food and install sneeze guards.
- Hold hot food at 135° F or higher.
- Hold cold food at 41° F or lower.
- Use a thermometer, not a gauge on a holding unit. to check the internal temperature of a food.
- Check food temperature at least every four hours.
- Throw out the food that is not 41° F or lower, or 135° F or higher
- It is a good practice to check the temperature every two hours so there is time for a corrective action.
- Never use hot-holding equipment to reheat food unless it is made to do that.

Holding Food without Temperature Control (Out of refrigerator or warmer)
- When displaying food for a short time such as at a catered event.
- When there is no electricity to power holding equipment.
- We can hold cold food without temperature control for up to six hours if:
- Food kept at 41° F or lower before moving it from a refrigerator. Throw out any food that exceeds 70° F.
- Serve, sell, or throw out the food within six hours.
- We can hold hot food without temperature control for up to four hours if:
- Food was held at 135° F or higher before removing it from temperature control.
- Sell, serve, or throw out the food within four hours.

2. Serving Food

- Contamination is the biggest threat to food that is ready to be served.
- Use single-use gloves, spatulas, tongs, deli sheets or utensils to handle food; do not use bare hands.
- Use separate utensils for each item and clean and sanitize them after each serving task.
- After continuously using utensils for four hours, clean and sanitize them.
- Place utensils in the food containers with handles above the rim.
- Ice cream scoops can be stored under 135° F running water.
- Servers can contaminate food by touching food-contact areas of glasses, dishes and utensils.
- Hold dishes by the bottom or edge and glasses by the middle, bottom, or stem.
- Do not stack glasses when carrying them. Carry them in a rack or on a tray.
- Hold flatware such as knives and forks by the handle not the food-contact surfaces.
- Avoid bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat food.
- Use ice scoops or tongs to get ice from ice machines or ice containers-not a glass or bare hands.
- Wrap or cover silverware on preset tables, or remove the extra settings when guests are seated.
- If they remain on the table, make sure they are cleaned and sanitized after guests have left.
- Do not serve food returned by one customer to another customer.
- Do not re-serve uncovered condiments, and serve condiments in their containers or safe containers.
- Throw away opened containers of condiments and do not combine them with fresh ones.
- Never re-serve uneaten bread to another customer and change linens used in bread baskets after each customer.
- Do not re-serve plate garnishes, throw them away.

Self-Service Area
- Food can be time-temperature abused and contaminated at self-service areas.
- Keep hot food at 135° F or higher and cold food at 41° F or lower.
- Label food served in self-service areas.
- Provide correct and enough utensils for dispensing food.
- Never use ice used for keeping food cold as an ingredient for food.
- Protect food displayed by using sneeze guards.
- Sneeze guards must extends 14 inches above the counter and seven inches beyond the food.
- Post clear signs informing customers not to refill dirty plates or use dirty utensils.
- Bulk food in self-service areas must be labeled.

Off-Site Service
- Use food-grade containers to carry food off-site and use appropriate containers and equipment to hold them.
- Make sure delivery vehicles are clean. Check regularly.
- Make sure foods are held at correct temperature.
- Label food with a use-by date and time and instructions for reheating and service.
- Make sure the service site has correct utilities, such as safe water and garbage containers.
- Make sure to store ready-to-eat food separately from raw meat such as meat, poultry, and seafood.

Vending Machines
- Handle food for use in vending machines with the same care as any other food.
- Protect food from contamination and time-temperature abuse during transport, delivery, and service.
- Throw out the food immediately if the date has expired.
- Refrigerated food prepared on site must be thrown out if not sold within seven days of preparation.
- Dispense TCS food in its original containers. Make sure cold food is kept at 41° F or lower and hot food at 135° F or higher.
- Make sure fresh fruits with edible peels are washed and wrapped before they are put in the machine.
- If machines prevent TCS food from being dispensed due to time-temperature abuse, discard the food.