The Flow of Food


After food is purchased from an approved and reputable supplier and received and stored properly, the next steps in the flow of food are preparing, freezing, thawing, cooking, cooling, reheating, holding and serving food. At this point it is important to mention that food becomes unsafe by time-temperature abuse, cross-contamination, poor personal hygiene and poor cleaning and sanitizing. The chance of the occurrence of foodborne illness is specially high from preparing to serving steps in the flow of food, particularly if preparing and serving food to high-risk populations.

1. Preparation

When preparing food follow these guidelines:
- Make sure all equipment, utensils, workstations, cutting boards are clean and sanitized.
- Minimize time food stays in temperature danger zone (TDZ).
- Remove as much food as you can prepare from the cooler in a short period of time.
- When food is prepared, cook it as quickly as possible or return to the refrigerator.
- Do not misrepresent the appearance of food by color or food additives, colored overwraps and lights.

Throw away all food, especially ready to eat food if :
- Handled by a staff that has been restricted or excluded from the operation due to illness.
- If contaminated by hands or bodily fluids.
- If exceeded the time and temperature requirements designed to keep food safe.

When preparing produce:
- Make sure fruits and vegetable do not touch surfaces touched by raw meat, seafood, and poultry.
- Prepare produce away from cooked and ready-to-eat food.
- Wash produce thoroughly under running warmer water than produce temperature.
- Wash produce before cutting, cooking, or combining it with other ingredients.
- When washing lettuce and spinach, remove outer leaves, pull them completely apart and rinse them thoroughly.
- Hold and refrigerate cut fruits and vegetable at 41° F or lower.
- When soaking or storing produce in standing water or ice-water slurry, do not mix items or multiple batches of the same item
- Do not serve raw seed sprouts to high- risk populations.

When preparing eggs and egg mixtures follow these guidelines:
- If allowed by regulatory authority to use them, handled pooled eggs very carefully.
- Cook them promptly or store them at 41° F or lower.
- Before using a new batch, clean and sanitize the containers used to hold them.
- When preparing dishes such as hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing or mousse use:
- Pasteurized shell eggs or egg products
- If preparing undercooked or raw dishes for high-risk populations, use pasteurized eggs and egg products.
- Unpasteurized eggs may be used for high-risk populations in dishes like omelets that are cooked all the way.

When preparing salad containing TCS food:
Use leftover TCS food such as chicken, eggs, tuna and potato only if they have been cooked, held and cooled correctly.
- Throw out leftover food held at 41° F or lower after seven days.
- Prepare items used in preparation in small batches.

When using an ice machine follow these guidelines:
Make ice from a safe drinkable water.
- Never use ice as an ingredient after is used to cool food, such as ice used in a salad bar.
- Use clean and sanitized scoops and containers when using ice from an ice machine.
- Store the scoop outside the ice machine.
- Never use containers used to hold raw meat, seafood, poultry, and chemicals to hold or carry ice.
- Never use a glass to scoop ice.
- Never touch ice with hands.

Preparation practices that require permission from regulatory authority (Variance):
- Packing juice for sale on site, unless juice has a warning.
- Smoking food as means of preserving food, not flavor enhancement.
- Using additives or components such as vinegar so time and temperature control no longer are needed for safety.
- Curing food
- Custom-processing animals such as a deer that is hunted for personal use.
Sprouting seeds or beans
- Offering live shellfish from a display tank
Packaging food using reduced-oxygen packaging (ROP) method that includes:
Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP)
sous vide food

2. Thawing

- Never thaw food at room temperature.
- Thaw food in a refrigerator at 41° F or less.
- Thaw food by submerging it under 70° F or lower, running, drinkable water.
- Thaw food using a microwave if you cook the food immediately after thawing.
- Thaw food as part of cooking.
- Freezing does not kill pathogens and they will grow if exposed to the temperature danger zone during thawing.

3. Cooking

- Cooking reduces the number of pathogens in food to safe level but does not destroy spores or toxins they produce.
- Handle foods correctly before cooking them.
- Each food requires different temperatures to cook and hold in that temperature for a specific amount of time during cooking.
- If a customer, especially one belonging to a high-risk population, requests lower temperature, inform them of the potential risks.
- Use a thermometer that is right for the kind of food you are cooking to measure its temperature.
- Check the temperature in the thickest part of the food and take at least two readings in different locations.

The following minimum temperatures have been developed for various TCS food:
- Cook whole and ground poultry such as chicken or turkey at a minimum internal temperature of 165° F for 15 seconds, also stuffing made with fish, meat, or poultry.
- Cook ground beef such as beef and pork, injected meat ,chopped, and minced seafood, and shell eggs that will be hot-held for service at mini um internal temperature of 155° F for 15 seconds.
- Cook seafood such as fish, shellfish and crustaceans, steaks/chops of pork, beef, veal, lamb and the shell eggs that will be served immediately at a minimum internal temperature of 145° F for 15 seconds and for 4 minutes for roast of pork, beef, veal and lamb.
- Cook fruits,vegetables, grains such as pasta and rice, and legumes such as beans and refried beans that will be hot-held for service at minimum internal temperature of 135° F.

Cooking TCS food in the microwave own
- Cook meat, poultry, seafood and eggs to 165° F
- Cover surface to prevent drying of surface
- To even out the food temperature, let the covered food stand for at least two minutes.
- Check the temperature in at least in two places

Guidelines for partial cooking during preparation
- Do not cook the food initially more than 60 minutes.
- Cool the food immediately after initial cooking.
- Refrigerate at 41° F or lower or freeze it.
- Before selling or serving the food, heat the food to minimum internal temperature of 165° F for 15 seconds.
- Mark the food that it is partially cooked and needs further cooking and separate them from ready-to-eat food.

Advise Consumers if:
- Your menu includes TSC food that are raw or undercooked by explaining it on the menu.
- You must also advise customers about the risk of foodborne illness if they order raw or undercooked food.
- The information can be provided using brochures, table tents, signs or other written methods.
- Never serve raw seed sprouts or raw or undercooked eggs such as over easy eggs , meat, seafood , raw oysters on the half shell, and rare hamburgers to high-risk populations.

4. Cooling

- If cooked food are not served immediately, it must be cooled to get it out of the temperature danger zone (41° F to 135° F)
- Pathogens grow fast in the temperature danger zone and even faster between 70° F and 125° F.
- To reduce the growth of pathogens, TCS food must pass through these zones quickly.
- Cool TCD food from 135° F to 41 °F or lower within six hours.
- First cool from 135° F to 70° F within two hours, and if not reached to 70° F reheat and cool again.
- Then cool from 70° F to 41° F or lower in the next four hours.

Methods for Cooling Food:
- Large, thick, and dense food cool more slowly than small thin, less dense food.
- Stainless steel transfers heat from the food faster than plastic.
- Shallow pans and pots allow heat to disperse faster from food than deep pans and pots.
- Never cool hot food in a cooler.
- Use ice-water bath, blast chiller or ice paddle to cool food.
- Use ice or cold water as an ingredient to cool food.

5. Reheating

- Reheat the foods based on how you want to use it.
- Assuming the food has been cooked and cooled correctly, we can reheat the food to any temperature, such as using beef for a beef sandwich.
- To reheat TCS food for hot-holding, we must heat the food to an internal temperature of 165° F for 15 seconds.
- Make sure it takes two hours for the food to reach to this temperature. This applies to all reheating, such as in the ovens or microwaves.
- Reheat commercially packed and processed ready-to-eat food such as cheese sticks and deep-fried vegetables to an internal temperature of 135° F.