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Thread: Ok help me sort out this food issue please

  1. #1

    Ok help me sort out this food issue please

    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.

  2. #2
    Senior Member goodchef1's Avatar
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    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

  3. #3
    Senior Member/ Internet Hooligan
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    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.

  4. #4
    Senior Member wenus2's Avatar
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    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.
    -Enjoy the ride. *** All statements made herein are my personal opinion and nothing more, regardless of tone or context. ***

  5. #5
    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.

  6. #6
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    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.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Tristan View Post
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tristan View Post
    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.
    "God sends meat and the devil sends cooks." - Thomas Deloney

  8. #8
    Senior Member/ Internet Hooligan
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    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.

  9. #9

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    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.

  10. #10
    Senior Member goodchef1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kalaeb View Post
    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.

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