Posted by Steve Karoly on March 02, 1998 at 23:42:56 :
In Reply to: dangerzone posted by Carl Jones on February 26, 1998 at 11:25:40 :
California changed the danger zone from 41 to 140 deg. F. on Jan. 1, 1997. This is the same temp range recommended by the FDA Model Food Code. The only reason the code doesn't state 40 deg. F. (that's what the military teaches) is that 41 neatly corresponds with the metric temperature.
Before you can worry about holding food above 140 deg. F., it must be cooked to the proper temperature. That means 165 deg. F. for ground meats and cassorole dishes, 157 deg. F. for eggs, etc. (My copy of the the food code is at work; I can't remember all the temperatures off hand.)
You can use time, and not temperature, as a public health measure in California. BUT you have to have a HACCP plan in place and have your procedure approved by the county health department. Basically, you have to tag each dish or pan with the time and temperature (hopefully over 140) the product was removed from temperature controls. Then you have four hours to serve the product. After four hours you must discard the product. With a HACCP system in place, you or your employees are keeping records (logs, etc.) each step along the way. I realize it is difficult to start discarding food under these conditions. That's where Cambro containers or heated cabinets come in handy. Of course, the best policy in any food service operation is to prepare any menu item as close to serving time as possible. Ideally, you don't hold food any longer that possible. These two items is where a mojority of foodborne illness comes from.
I can discuss HACCP--Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points--later if someone asks. We are just starting to use it in correctional food services. It has a lot of benefits, but is record intensive, something that may be difficult to obtain in off premisis catering. Do any caterers use this system? How many are aware of it?