Safely Cooling Food

Safely Cooling Food

TCS food is food that requires time and temperature control to remain safe for consumption. When cooling food, you need to take it from 135°F to 41°F (57°C - 5°C) within 6 hours. Bacteria grows especially rapidly at temperatures between 125°F- 70°F (52°C - 21°C), so when cooling food you must do the following to make sure it passes through this range as quickly as possible:

Cool food from 135° F- 70°F (57°C - 21°C) within 2 hours. If 70°C is not reached by the two hour mark, reheat and cool again.

Cool food from 70°F- 41°F (21°C - 5°C or lower) in the following 4 hours. The total cooling time to reach 41°F can not be more than 6 hours, or food must be reheated and cooled again.

Factors That Affect How a Food Will Cool:

Food containers- Plastic containers will hold on to heat, while stainless steel or copper containers will pull heat away from food.

Food thickness- The denser/thicker the food, the slower it is to cool. For example, a thick steak will cool slower than a thin steak.

Food size- Larger items cool slower than smaller items. For example, a turkey will cool slower it if you cut it into pieces.

Stirring- Stirring liquid foods encourages them to cool faster. Ice paddles (plastic paddles filled with frozen water) can expedite this process even further.

Ways to Cool Food Faster:

Blast Chiller

Ice bath- Place large batch food in smaller containers in a clean prep sink or container filled with ice. Do NOT chill large amounts of food in a cooler as they were not designed for this purpose.

Add Ice- To protect flavor and consistency, it is wise to make recipes such as soup and stews with less water initially, so they can be cooled with ice or cold water later.

Record Keeping

When cooling food, you should keep an hourly record of the progress.

At minimum, you should include the date, type of food being cooled, cooling method, and temperature at hours 1-6. If the food is hotter than 135° F (57° C) initially, also make a note of what time it reached 135° F.

Safely Cooling Food

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