Preparation and Cooking

Now you know how to safely receive and store food. But there are still several points in the flow of food at which food could become unsafe. One of those points is food preparation. Food preparation means cooking and preparing foods to be eaten. Remember that you need to cook certain foods, such as poultry and meat, to specific internal temperatures for them to be safe to eat.

Another way to keep food safe is to prevent cross-contamination and microorganism growth. Salads with cold protein, such as chicken salad, can be the perfect place for microorganisms to grow. Because raw and cooked foods are combined in these dishes, not all of the microorganisms will be killed by heat.

To avoid contamination during food preparation, use tongs or spatulas instead of your hands. Hands can carry bacteria. Always make sure equipment, tools, cutting boards, and other surfaces are cleaned and sanitized often. Keep foods covered whenever possible.

To avoid cross-contamination, wash all fresh fruits and vegetables before you prepare them. Wash root vegetables and starches, such as potatoes, before and after you peel them. Never prepare uncooked meats in the same area you use to prepare fruits and vegetables.

Each type of food product you prepare is at risk for a different kind of contamination. Know the risks for individual foods to prepare them safely for customers. (See Figure 2.8.)

Hold Food Safely

In some foodservice establishments, foods may be cooked and served immediately. However, in other facilities, foods must be prepared ahead of time. Foods are then held on a steam table for service. The process of keeping foods warm or cold before serving them is called holding. For example, you might prepare a bean soup for lunch that will be served over a three-hour lunch period. The soup would need to be held at the right temperature for service.

Holding Guidelines

It is important to learn how to hold foods properly. Foods are at risk for microorganism growth during holding. These general guidelines can help you hold food safely:

• Keep foods covered to reduce the risk of contamination.

• Take the internal temperature of held food regularly. This should be done a minimum of every two hours.

• Hold cooked foods at 135°F (57°C) or above. If the temperature drops below 135°F (57°C), reheat the food to 165°F (74°C) for 15 seconds within two hours. Hold it again at 135°F (57°C). If the temperature drops below 135°F (57°C) for a second time, discard the food.

• Stir hot foods regularly.

• Do not warm up cold foods by placing them directly into a steam table. This can encourage bacteria to grow.

• Never mix a fresh batch of food with food that has been in holding. Discard food after it has been held for four hours.

^^ Color Coding You can help prevent foodborne illness with color-coded cutting boards. Why would color-coded cutting boards be useful to prevent foodborne illness?

^^ Color Coding You can help prevent foodborne illness with color-coded cutting boards. Why would color-coded cutting boards be useful to prevent foodborne illness?

LY FIGURE 2.8 Food Prep

Prepare Foods Food preparation is a point in the flow of food at which food must be kept safe. At what other points should food be kept safe?

General Preparation and Cooking Guidelines

Use clean, sanitized cutting boards, knives, and tools.

Do not remove all the food from the refrigerator at one time. Work with only as much product as you will need for one hour.

Always prepare produce in a separate area from raw meats, poultry, eggs, or fish.

Clean and sanitize knives each time you prepare a different food product.

Do not let food sit on the counter. Prepare or cook it immediately, and then return what is left to storage.

Keep cold ingredients properly chilled in the refrigerator until you need them.

Fully cook protein foods, such as chicken, before you mix them with other food products.

Closely follow recipe directions when preparing foods.

Cook food to the proper minimum internal temperature.

Do not mix leftover foods with freshly prepared foods.

Reheat leftover sauces and gravies to 165°F (74°C) for 15 seconds before serving them.

Thoroughly cook foods that have been battered or breaded.

• Do not store cold foods directly on ice. Put the food in a storage container and then set the container into the ice until the food and the ice are at the same level in the container.

Serve Food Safely

You may remember that people are the main cause of cross-contamination in foods. When food is served, the chances of contamination are high. It is important to learn standard operating procedures about how foods should be served so that they remain safe.

Serving Guidelines

Every foodservice facility should have serving guidelines. All foodservice workers at the foodservice facility should follow these guidelines at this important step in the flow of food:

• Never touch ready-to-eat food with your bare hands.

• Never touch the surfaces of glasses, plates, or utensils that will come into contact with food or beverages. Instead, hold dishes by the bottom or an edge; hold cups by their handles; hold glasses by the lower third of the glass; and hold forks, knives, and spoons by their handles.

• Never allow one plate of food to overlap onto another plate of food.

• Use scoops to pick up ice. Never use your hands. Store scoops seperately from ice.

• Cleaning cloths should be used only for cleaning.

Cool Food Safely

The FDA recommends a two-stage method to cool food safely. In the first stage, cooked foods are cooled down to 70°F (21°C) within two hours. In the second stage, cooked foods are cooled down below 41°F (5°C) within four

L !FIGURE 2 9 Kitchen Sanitizers

Sanitizers for Surfaces There are several sanitizers that can be safely used in the professional kitchen. Many are diluted, or mixed, with water before use. Why do you think it is important to dilute these products properly?

Type of Sanitizer

Amount to Use

How to Use


1 tsp. per gallon

Soft or hard water at 75°F (24°C)


2 Tbsp. per 5 gallons

Hard water between 75°F-120°F (24°C-49°C)

Quaternary Ammonia

About 1 tsp. per gallon

Soft water at 75°F (24°C)

hours. This two-stage method takes six hours. Some facilities use a one-stage, four-hour method. In the one-stage method, foods are cooled down below 41°F (5°C). Check with local standards for cooling methods.

Refrigerators are not designed to cool hot foods. They are designed to hold cooled foods at cold temperatures. Remember that the more dense a food is, the slower it will cool. Shallow stainless steel pans allow food to cool quickly.

Reheat Foods Safely

Reheating cooked foods must be done carefully. Foods must be reheated so that they keep a minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for 15 seconds. Foods should be reheated within two hours of reaching 41°F (5°C). If you add a previously cooked food to another food, such as tomato sauce to spaghetti, the whole mixture must be reheated to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

definition of holding food?

Continue reading here: Disposal Point

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