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View Full Version : Ok help me sort out this food issue please



Tristan
07-20-2011, 11:29 AM
I'm having an argument where people are saying basically that food (stew and soups were used as an example) if left in a sealed container on the counter to cool down to room temperature before being bunged in the fridge would be rendered unsafe.

Due to bacterial growth. And that this is just an unsafe practice. Food needs to be refrigerated promptly to prevent spoilage.

I call bullsh!t. With the exception of foods with raw or barely cooked ingredients (sashimi, ceviche, home smoked tuna), is this actually a problem? Letting cooked untainted food sit for 2 or 3 hours before going into the fridge will make it a food safety threat?

Hope you professionals that handle food on a daily basis will chime in.

goodchef1
07-20-2011, 11:45 AM
total standard HACCP temperature danger zones are between 41 and 141 degrees for 4hrs.(tiny variables) at this rate, bacteria and other harmful organism multiply at a rate of double every 20min. ie: 200,400,800 etc. sealed oxygen depleted environments will help with prolonging this, as sous vide is relatively new and in only in its testing stage with DOH, they will keep it at this time frame.

our bodies sit right between these temperatures 98.6, which is why we are human bacteria breeding grounds, and easily transfer contamination to food and/or other substances.

my personal opinion is that I would plunge it in ice water to rapidly bring the temperature down. it is just not a wise practice at the moment. If consumers are putting their trust, and health in your hands, I would take better precautions with proper handling of food

Vertigo
07-20-2011, 11:47 AM
Professionally, I move all products like that into pans at a depth no taller than 2" and refrigerate uncovered immediately, covering when chilled. At home... well, I think you can be a bit more relaxed.

wenus2
07-20-2011, 12:11 PM
That's fine at home, but not at work.
Stew is a good example because it's one of those things that, even if you put it straight into the fridge, the center may still be in the danger zome beyond 4 hrs due to it'd density. IMHO the proper thing to do is a combination of the 2 answers you already have, transfer to a shallow pan and ice bath (or blast chiller). Throw it in the fridge once temp gets down to 40F.

At home I generally just let things cool on the counter for a few hours before going into the fridge. Your chance of contamination is lower st home though, and you are only putting yourself (and family) at risk, not dozens of customers.

Whenever possible it's also a good idea to reheat this stuff to a solid (homogeneous) 165F and hold for a few minutes as well.

Eamon Burke
07-20-2011, 04:55 PM
Bottom line: you've got two hours to get it down to 75 degrees, then 4 hours to get it down below 40.

Yes, this does ruin some foods, quality wise.

Over two hours in the "danger zone"(41-135F), it's trash.

tk59
07-20-2011, 06:49 PM
I'm glad the pros take such extreme precautions for their patrons' well-being. It is true that the rate of reproduction is amazing, too. In all practicality though, there are so few little guys in a freshly boiled stew it would probably take a full day to even see the smallest of colonies develop on the surface even on a warm day. Another thing to seriously consider for a home cook is our fridges (I don't know about industrial fridges.) will generally require a very long time to recover if you stick a big pot of hot stew in the fridge. I'd say it is far more dangerous to be unaware that a bunch of things you're storing for a while in your fridge are getting warmed up for an extended period.

JohnnyChance
07-20-2011, 08:06 PM
I'm having an argument where people are saying basically that food (stew and soups were used as an example) if left in a sealed container on the counter to cool down to room temperature before being bunged in the fridge would be rendered unsafe.

It would unsafe.


Due to bacterial growth. And that this is just an unsafe practice. Food needs to be refrigerated promptly to prevent spoilage.

I call bullsh!t. With the exception of foods with raw or barely cooked ingredients (sashimi, ceviche, home smoked tuna), is this actually a problem? Letting cooked untainted food sit for 2 or 3 hours before going into the fridge will make it a food safety threat?

Yep, bacterial growth. Moisture and warmth, they will breed. What makes it untainted? The container, the air, you, all add bacteria.

Leave it out on the counter uncovered in a shallow container until it is done steaming, then go into the fridge with it. Leaving a metal ladle or spoon in it will help heat escape and stirring it will also help cool it down evenly. When it is cool, put the lid on it. Having the lid on where condensation is forming on the underside actually makes things worse.

Like TK said, a big pot of stew can raise the temp of your fridge at home quite a bit. In pro kitchens it isn't as much of an issue because the fridge is so much bigger, the ratio of size of food item to size of fridge is more favorable. Ice baths and ice wands also help.

Vertigo
07-20-2011, 08:12 PM
Having the lid on where condensation is forming on the underside actually makes things worse.
Seriously! There's nothing I hate more than popping the lid off some leftovers and finding it covered in condensation. Don't trap heat in the things you're trying to cool down. Yak.

kalaeb
07-21-2011, 02:12 AM
I would dare venture the vast majority of food borne illness are not from restaurants as most people claim.

The majority of the time the public is practing unsafe food handling techniques at home (leaving product to cool on the counter, cross contamination etc), then going out to eat, getting sick and making the correlation of getting sick being the result of the last place they ate.

I would also assume, due to the care the food service professionals exercise here within this forum with their tools that they also take similar care with HACCP procedures. I would eat at any restaurant of any chef here knowing that.

It is unsafe to leave food to cool at room temperature. Rapid cooling is ideal...it needs to be to <41 degrees in 4 hours.

They really need to go back to mandatory home economics in high school. It is amazing to see how some people cook.

goodchef1
07-21-2011, 11:38 AM
I would dare venture the vast majority of food borne illness are not from restaurants as most people claim.

The majority of the time the public is practing unsafe food handling techniques at home (leaving product to cool on the counter, cross contamination etc), then going out to eat, getting sick and making the correlation of getting sick being the result of the last place they ate.

I would also assume, due to the care the food service professionals exercise here within this forum with their tools that they also take similar care with HACCP procedures. I would eat at any restaurant of any chef here knowing that.

It is unsafe to leave food to cool at room temperature. Rapid cooling is ideal...it needs to be to <41 degrees in 4 hours.

They really need to go back to mandatory home economics in high school. It is amazing to see how some people cook.

Very true, harmful organisms have an incubation period of 72hrs. Meaning that the cause of someone getting ill right after they have eaten something could be trace back as far as what they ate 3 days prior.

tk59
07-21-2011, 11:40 AM
...It is unsafe to leave food to cool at room temperature. Rapid cooling is ideal...it needs to be to <41 degrees in 4 hours.

They really need to go back to mandatory home economics in high school. It is amazing to see how some people cook.

Huh? Are you saying that you think you're gonna get sick if you make a stew (boiled) and leave it to cool for four hours?

Ichi
07-21-2011, 02:09 PM
Use pizza as an example, very delicious for breakfast after sitting out all night long. :thumbsup2:
At the restaurant we follow our HACCP Plan for Ensuring Food Safety.
Cooking at home, four hours on the stove cold, reheat and just eat it ! :cooking2:

Eamon Burke
07-21-2011, 02:30 PM
Huh? Are you saying that you think you're gonna get sick if you make a stew (boiled) and leave it to cool for four hours?

No, but the government does.

SpikeC
07-21-2011, 02:47 PM
I have read that it can be anywhere from a few hours to a week for different types of illness to appear.

ajhuff
07-21-2011, 03:49 PM
Use pizza as an example, very delicious for breakfast after sitting out all night long. :thumbsup2:
At the restaurant we follow our HACCP Plan for Ensuring Food Safety.
Cooking at home, four hours on the stove cold, reheat and just eat it ! :cooking2:

reheat cold pizza?? :scratchhead:

-AJ

kalaeb
07-21-2011, 04:13 PM
Huh? Are you saying that you think you're gonna get sick if you make a stew (boiled) and leave it to cool for four hours?

Possible not, but the problem is that many people will leave it to cool for four hours on their counter at which point it may drop to 80 degrees, then maybe put it in refridgeration taking another 2 to 3 hours to get to below 41 degrees. Making the total time in a temperature that harbors bacteria 6 to 8 hours and that is simply irresponsible in a food service setting. If you want to do it at home feel free, but when you are feeding hundreds of people you darn well better take as many precautions as possible to prevent bacteria growth. Likely or not. It never said that every time food does not reach 41 degrees in four hours that it will become a bacteria haven, but the risk and probability certainly increase, why not error on the side of caution.

The assumption that I hear all to often is when people tell me their kitchen is always clean and sanitary, or they just had it deep cleaned, or there could not possible be any harmful bacteria in my kitchen...to believe this is an error.

Ichi
07-21-2011, 04:21 PM
reheat cold pizza?? :scratchhead:

-AJ
I never reheat cold pizza.
My wife makes a Thai soup and puts chicken legs in and we have left that sit on the stove over night and just reheat and eat it, never been sick from it...hmmm but then again some of the stuff I have seen Thai`s eat would make a-lot of people :puke:

Vertigo
07-21-2011, 06:11 PM
I wont eat the leftover pizza if it sat out all night. There's something really, really wrong with that idea. http://www.souppilgrim.com/orglif/vomit.gif

Eamon Burke
07-21-2011, 06:19 PM
I wont eat the leftover pizza if it sat out all night. There's something really, really wrong with that idea. http://www.souppilgrim.com/orglif/vomit.gif

Guilty as charged, cold pizza for breakfast was standard issue in my late teens.

You know what they say, pizza is like sex. When its good, its REALLY good. And when it's BAD.........its still pretty good.

Vertigo
07-21-2011, 06:32 PM
Don't get me wrong--I prefer pizza cold. I've ordered pizza and just tossed it straight into the fridge upon delivery.

Just no counter-pizza. Imagine all the hours it spends there kinda festering, while microbial ne'er-do-wells stumble all over it and get stuck in the gurgling, lukewarm cheese like dinosaurs in the tar pits... no thank you sir! AND A GOOD DAY TO YOU!

Ichi
07-21-2011, 06:33 PM
Standard practice in college was to roll out of bed, grab the half-full can of warm beer from last night, then snag a piece of pizza from the box on the counter, Breakfast of champions.
Cold pizza, warm beer. Priceless :beer:

Eamon Burke
07-21-2011, 06:41 PM
Don't get me wrong--I prefer pizza cold. I've ordered pizza and just tossed it straight into the fridge upon delivery.

Just no counter-pizza. Imagine all the hours it spends there kinda festering, while microbial ne'er-do-wells stumble all over it and get stuck in the gurgling, lukewarm cheese like dinosaurs in the tar pits... no thank you sir! AND A GOOD DAY TO YOU!

Actually, it's like McDonalds buns...they dry out so fast, they don't harbor molds and bacteria--I've seen 3 month old pizza and it just looks dried out. The only real problem is that the fat congeals and leaves a filmy taste in your mouth. Of course, that's what the warm beer is for.

swarfrat
07-21-2011, 07:39 PM
...they dry out so fast, they don't harbor molds and bacteria--I've seen 3 month old pizza and it just looks dried out....
Ah, reminds me of my "lucky" pizza.

Basically, just a last slice nobody in the group wanted, boxed up and tossed in the trunk of my car. And then promptly forgotten for a couple weeks.

When I eventually found it I peeked in the box expecting some microbial horror show but like you said, it just dried out, totally mummified, looked the same as the night I got it.

So of course I tossed it right back in the trunk (in the name of science).

Checked up on it every once in a while. It never changed. Drove around with it for years.



sr.

MadMel
07-22-2011, 11:45 AM
Ideally, you could vacuum pack your food. There's a small, home use machine on sale at Tangs Orchard and Isetan Shaw.

What I usually do is to bring it to a boil and leave it there, covered. No probs.. Boil again before you eat it the next day.. So far that's what I've been doing at home and what my grandparents have been doing at home.. We haven't had anything happen to us... If you want to keep it for a long period of time, I'd use the rectangular plastic take-away boxes you get from hawkers that charge an extra 20 cents for take-away, put you food in those and chuck them in the freezer. I find that that is the perfect size for storing in the home fridge and for rapid cooling.

FryBoy
07-22-2011, 12:27 PM
A pot of stew or soup that has been simmering on the stove, covered, is necessarily sterile as it's bee cooking at or near boiling temperatures for 20 minutes to several hours. Given that fact, explain to me exactly how leaving the covered pot to cool on the stove or counter would result in contamination. Spontaneous generation?

ajhuff
07-22-2011, 12:44 PM
A pot of stew or soup that has been simmering on the stove, covered, is necessarily sterile as it's bee cooking at or near boiling temperatures for 20 minutes to several hours. Given that fact, explain to me exactly how leaving the covered pot to cool on the stove or counter would result in contamination. Spontaneous generation?

Bureaucracy. :D

-AJ

Eamon Burke
07-22-2011, 01:10 PM
The air. The air in the pot, the air seeping through the lid. There was a Mythbusters episode where they put toothbrushes all over a bathroom and one in the kitchen and they all grew fecal cauliform bacteria, even the brush that was unused and in another part of the building, cause it's just everywhere.

It's also about risk control--that kind of practice opens a channel for something to contaminate it without anyone knowing--a fly weasels it's way in, a person sneezes in it's direction, etc.

If you have to do it, and are controlling it's environment, and plan on re-heating it, or the customers are notified of it's risks, you can get away with pretty much anything...you just have to be careful. There's a whole section in a health dept license for sushi chefs because it's pretty much breaking every rule ever to make any kind of sushi.

Customfan
07-22-2011, 01:22 PM
Err on the side of caution... :angel2:

ajhuff
07-22-2011, 01:59 PM
The air. The air in the pot, the air seeping through the lid. There was a Mythbusters episode where they put toothbrushes all over a bathroom and one in the kitchen and they all grew fecal cauliform bacteria, even the brush that was unused and in another part of the building, cause it's just everywhere.

It's also about risk control--that kind of practice opens a channel for something to contaminate it without anyone knowing--a fly weasels it's way in, a person sneezes in it's direction, etc.

If you have to do it, and are controlling it's environment, and plan on re-heating it, or the customers are notified of it's risks, you can get away with pretty much anything...you just have to be careful. There's a whole section in a health dept license for sushi chefs because it's pretty much breaking every rule ever to make any kind of sushi.

+1, especially the risk management part.

-AJ

FryBoy
07-22-2011, 02:17 PM
Don't your pots have lids? Those on mine seal very tightly as the pot cools.

JMJones
07-22-2011, 02:42 PM
I got food poisoning while on vacation when I was a teenager. The doctor told me that the most common method of contracting food poisoning that he saw in the ER was from people eating pizza in the morning that had been on the counter for the night.

Ichi
07-22-2011, 03:03 PM
I don't think many people have gotten sick from eating pizza that's been left out all night. If that were so, we'd have People of all ages dropping like flies all over the world, and that's obviously not happening.
The one who does get sick, must be bacteria sensitive...

ajhuff
07-22-2011, 03:55 PM
I'm not arguing against the wisdom of Serve Safe, just an anecdote.

When I was in high school my best friend and I would get 2 large pizza and an 8 pack of Coke every Friday and Saturday night. One to eat fresh, the other we left on the counter and ate the next morning. Did that for 2 years, never got sick.

In college, being even smarter, we would do the same thing except instead on leaving the box on the counter we would leave the box on top of the stove. The pilot lights for the burners kept the pizza at a little warmer temp giving a better congealed cheese in the morning :) Still never got sick.

Luck? Probably but I do think the acidity of the pizza sauce gives you a lot of wiggle room for food poisoning. The bread dough crust of course can stay out at room temp just like any bread. And cheese can too really, like hoop cheese in the old farm store. We only ever got pepperoni and of course it is shelf stable.

Just a meaningless data point. :D

-AJ

Eamon Burke
07-22-2011, 04:04 PM
I don't think many people have gotten sick from eating pizza that's been left out all night. If that were so, we'd have People of all ages dropping like flies all over the world, and that's obviously not happening.
The one who does get sick, must be bacteria sensitive...


Hey, I was surprised to find this fact out:
I had a regular customer that was a very busy Orthopedic Surgeon in Dallas, at a major downtown hospital. She said that the number one job all summer, every year, was re-attaching fingers and toes back on to kids because their parents drove over them with a lawnmower. It's like a daily issue.

Ichi
07-22-2011, 05:16 PM
Funny you should mention that, when I was 5, I got my pinky sliced pretty good by a lawn mower :dazed:

You can never get away from bacteria.

BertMor
07-22-2011, 10:29 PM
One thing no one has mentioned is that harmful bacteria is not the ony danger. Toxic waste from live organisms are also a real hazzard. The bacteria my die, but before they die they excrete. And that excretion can be deadly. Botulism falls into this catagory. The organism is bad, its waste products are deadly

SpikeC
07-22-2011, 11:13 PM
Ah yes, bacterial endotoxins! Some of the most interesting compounds around!

goodchef1
07-23-2011, 01:39 AM
I'm not arguing against the wisdom of Serve Safe, just an anecdote.

When I was in high school my best friend and I would get 2 large pizza and an 8 pack of Coke every Friday and Saturday night. One to eat fresh, the other we left on the counter and ate the next morning. Did that for 2 years, never got sick.

In college, being even smarter, we would do the same thing except instead on leaving the box on the counter we would leave the box on top of the stove. The pilot lights for the burners kept the pizza at a little warmer temp giving a better congealed cheese in the morning :) Still never got sick.



:lol2: High school and college kids have blue #2 steel lining in their stomachs anyway, so that doesn't count. On a serious note, harmful bacteria does not come from the food itself per se, but from cross contamination. if someone forgot to wash his/her hands after using the restroom and made your pizza, you could have serious problems with that day old slice, as opposed to one that has had proper food handling.

You cannot see organisms with the naked eye so what looks like a dry days old pizza may or may not contain harmful toxins, most of it depends on how the food was handled prior, that's why the government has strict regulations with HACCP. it was instituted for your safety, so you should be wary of those that are careless with food in a commercial setting

as I mentioned earlier about incubation periods of organisms, if you get sick after eating chicken at KFC, it actually could be from that day old pizza you ate 3 days prior. The one made from the people that forgets to wash their hands after using the restrooms.

Vertigo
07-23-2011, 01:45 AM
Don't your pots have lids? Those on mine seal very tightly as the pot cools.

Tight enough you can basically use your cookware as a canning / jarring medium? Like an air-tight vacuum is created in the pot as it cools down?

Because otherwise, air is getting in your pot, and airborne funk can breed if left in the danger zone for a long enough time.

Miles
07-23-2011, 11:05 AM
Bottom line, it is a personal decision as to what you do or don't do at home. That said it's best to follow good & proper sanitation practices including observing time and temp. Sure, at home you only risk yourself, family, and/or any guests, not hundreds or thousands of people, but it doesn't take much to seriously ruin someone's day or even life.

steeley
07-25-2011, 04:16 AM
You can always look up your health dept in your area and find the food handlers test .
take it and see how you score .
:cook:

jgraeff
07-29-2011, 10:07 AM
Don't your pots have lids? Those on mine seal very tightly as the pot cools.

Its still not a 100% guaranteed that bacteria growth won't take place. I mean some bacteria is microscopic and im sure it can get in through the air and small cracks around the seal.

The best bet is to just be cautious, place i have worked we do a couple different things. It its a big pot of stock, soup, or stew we will place it in the back sinks filled with ice and continually stir until it hits about 72, drain the water and add more ice until its down to 40, strain and place in the cooler.

If your working with something smaller, or something like rice. We just place them in 200 pans and place in front of the fan in the walk-in to cool uncovered and it doesn't take very long just stir every 15 min or so and its usually cooled down within 20-30 min. I do this with sauces as well.

From a professional standpoint its your job to make sure that the food you serve is of the highest quality and that also means the highest food safety is involved.

At home im like most of you i just let things sit out until they cool. But at work we have to be very careful.

jmforge
07-30-2011, 03:45 PM
You know the great thing about botulism poisoning? if you survive, not only do you lose weight, but all of your wrinkles go away!!!!!:D