Throughout the past year, restaurants that once had buffet lines, salad bars and other self-service stations have had to reinvent them for the current environment – and those changes may be permanent. This has also resulted in the introduction of more action stations and grab-and-go options, as well as changes in how employees are assigned to tasks within the operation. It’s a good time to make sure your team is up to date on current safety precautions. They should understand how to maintain proper temperatures for hot- and cold-held foods, preheat foods for hot-holding, prevent cross-contamination when bringing in fresh food or serving a guest, and when to discard food that has been sitting out for service.
In warmer weather, your refrigerators and coolers have to work harder and it’s easier for food to enter the temperature danger zone when it is left out to cool down prior to refrigeration. Make sure the doors of appliances are only opened when necessary and are closed promptly. It’s also a good time to remind staff to avoid chilling bulky food items and to take steps to make it easier for large-volume foods to cool down. Divide hot foods into smaller containers for chilling and use ice baths to bring food temperatures down to refrigerator-ready temperatures quickly. To keep food out of the temperature danger zone, make sure hot foods cool down from 140 to 70°F within two hours and to 41°F or less within four hours.