Environmental Services - Food & Commercial Team

                   FOOD HYGIENE ADVICE NOTE - FH4

This advice note is one of a series designed to promote a greater understanding of food
safety. To prevent possible confusion between advice which represents good practice, and
a specific legal requirement, the word must has been used to denote where applicable, a
legal obligation.


Under cooking, inadequate cooling and incorrect reheating of food are three common factors
in food poisoning incidents.     In terms of Hazard Analysis, cooking is probably the single
most critical control point of all. It is important that this area of the food business is
monitored and recorded on a regular basis. The following guidance is intended to help you
avoid practices that may result in food poisoning.

Cooking of Food

Whilst food is cooked to make it palatable the cooking process also destroys living food
poisoning bacteria and therefore correct cooking is very important in producing safe food.

1        Avoid cooking very large quantities of food as it is harder to ensure that all the food
         reaches the correct temperature.         Joint sizes should be no larger than
         6 lbs (2.5 kilo).

2        Cook all food thoroughly, especially red meat and poultry meat. A digital probe
         thermometer should be used to check the centre temperature of joints and poultry. A
         temperature of 70°C should be achieved for a minimum of 2 minutes.

3        Liquid dishes should be stirred frequently during cooking to distribute the heat
         thoroughly and therefore avoid cold areas within the cooking vessel.

4        Ensure frozen meat and poultry are thoroughly defrosted before cooking otherwise
         under cooking will occur. NEVER attempt to compensate by increasing cooking
         times. During thawing be very careful not to contaminate other foods or work
         surfaces with the defrosting liquid.

5        Where possible, serve food immediately after cooking or keep in a bain-marie or hot
         food cabinet above 63°C (check hot food holding temperatures regularly by inserting
         a clean probe thermometer). Hot food cabinets or bain-maries must not be used to
         heat food, they are intended only to keep previously heated food hot.

Cooling of Food

If food is allowed to cool down over a long period of time any food poisoning bacteria or
bacterial spores that survive the cooking process (bacterial spores are heat resistant so they
may be present) will be able to grow and multiply to a level that may cause illness.

1        Wherever possible serve food immediately.        Only prepare as much food as is

FH4 31/07/2003

    2        Cool hot cooked food as quickly as possible within one and a half hours of cooking
             and place under refrigeration immediately. Quick cooling can be better achieved in
             the following ways:

             a       Provision of a blast chiller.

             b       Keeping the food portion size small eg joints no larger than 6 lbs
                     (2.5 kgs).

             c       Stirring liquid foods frequently with a clean spoon during cooling.

             d       Immersing the cooking vessel in clean cold water and stirring the contents

             e       Spreading the food out into large shallow trays so that heat is lost more
                     quickly. These trays can be pre-frozen for greater effect.

             f       Placing the food in room which is cooler than the kitchen.

    Great care must be taken during cooling so that food does not become contaminated. Do
    not place hot food in refrigerators.

    Reheating of Food

    Thorough reheating of the food must be carried out. This will ensure that the bacteria which
    survive the initial cooking or which may have contaminated the food after cooling will be

    1        Reheat thoroughly so that a centre temperature of 70°C for red meat for at least 2
             minutes and 80°C for white meat is reached and held for at least 6 seconds. (Use a
             probe thermometer to check).

    2        If reheating liquids they should be boiled vigorously and stirred regularly.

    3        Serve reheated food immediately.

    4        Never reheat food more than once, discard left overs.

    Monitoring and Recording

    The temperature of food should be checked and recorded on a regular basis. It is important
    that this temperature monitoring and recording takes place not just at the initial cooking
    stage, but also at the cooling and reheating stages as these can be critical to the safety of
    the food you serve. For most businesses it is recommended that food temperatures should
    be checked and recorded on a regular basis. The retention of temperature monitoring
    records for the cooking, cooling and reheating of food is an important part of your hazard
    analysis system, and the temperature records should be kept in an appropriate record book
    or log. (See attached example.)
          Example of an extract from a Cooked Food / Hot Holding Temperature Record Log
Date     Product Description Temp °C                         Signature/Comments
6/7/98 Chicken Curry                  59°C       Replaced on heat for 15 mins till temp. got to 75°C.
7/7/98 Roast Chicken                  91°C
8/7/98 Boiled Rice                    53°C       Hot Holding - Removed from sale and destroyed.

                     Cooked Food / Hot Holding / Cooling Temperature Check

    FH4 31/07/2003
Date     Product Description   Temp °C   Signature/Comments

Date     Product Description   Temp °C   Signature/Comments

Date     Product Description   Temp °C   Signature/Comments

   FH4 31/07/2003
                                    To Summarise

                                    Cook food thoroughly

          (70 C for 2 minutes or equivalent time / temperature combination)


                          Cool food quickly ) within 11/2 hours


                                 Store food in refrigerator

                                ↓                              ↓

                 Serve cold                   Reheat thoroughly (as above)


                                                    Serve immediately

If you would like to obtain further information with regard to the subject of this advice note, or
in relation to any aspect of food safety or food hygiene, the staff of the Commercial Team
will be pleased to help on telephone 01892 526121.

FH4 31/07/2003

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