It is imperative that any business understands the legalities of food safety storage temperatures when operating commercial refrigeration. This applies to all businesses that use refrigeration to cool food, whether that is in the form of large cold rooms or smaller refrigeration systems. Not sure of the legalities? We will tell you.
What are the food safety standard requirements?
The Standard 3.2.2 Food Safety Practices and General Requirements is a government legality, set in place to regulate the cooling and reheating of food for commercial practice. All food businesses must adhere to these requirements, which specify food safety storage temperatures. These rules are set in place to ensure food is safe to eat, and to avoid human consumption of potentially hazardous food.
Temperature controls for food safety standards
So, what are the food safety storage temperatures you must adhere to? According to the Food Standards Code of Australia and New Zealand, perishable food (more information detailed below) must be kept at either 5°C or colder, or at 60°C or hotter when it is received, displayed, transported or stored.
This applies to food that is considered potentially hazardous when not kept under temperature control. Hazardous food is, therefore, a term used to classify foods that require temperature control to keep them safe for human consumption.
Which foods are considered to be potentially hazardous?
Hazardous food in this instance, is considered to be food that may contain bacteria, which can cause toxins and illness if it is not kept at the right temperature.
The following, must adhere to the aforementioned food safety storage temperatures:
Meat. The most commonly recognised food is any form of meat, which may be subjected to bacteria growth when not stored at the correct temperature. This applies not only to raw meat, but cooked foods that contain meat such as curries and casseroles.
Dairy. Cheese, milk, yoghurt and custards must be kept in refrigeration units. The same applies to any dessert that contains a dairy product.
Seafood. All types of seafood must be kept refrigerated at the correct food safety storage temperatures.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, including prepared salads.
Cooked rice and pasta. Rice, in particular, is known to cause illness, because uncooked rice often contains the bacteria Bacillus cereus. These bacteria can survive in cooked rice, and spores can grow if cooked rice is left out at room temperature. Always ensure cooled, cooked rice is kept refrigerated.
Protein rich foods. The correct food safety storage temperatures apply to foods containing eggs, beans and nuts, such as quiche and savoury slices.
Prepared sandwiches, wraps and rolls. Most prepared sandwiches will include the aforementioned foods, and must therefore be kept refrigerated.
Which foods do not need to be refrigerated?
It may seem obvious, but you might want to know which foods won’t need to be refrigerated. Food safety storage temperatures only apply to perishables and those in the aforementioned list, therefore the following pantry items won’t need to be refrigerated:
Dry pasta and rice
Dry legumes and pulses
Potatoes (best stored in paper bags, in a cool and dry pantry)
Coffee and tea bags
Apples, peaches, nectarines and pears can be kept in a fruit basket for up to one week
Bananas don’t need to be refrigerated, unless they are ripe and can then be stored in the fridge or freezer to prevent further ripening.
When to cool potentially hazardous food
Food that is cooked, but is intended to be eaten later, must be cooled to 5°C or colder as quickly as possible.
Leaving cooked food out for a prolonged time allows bacteria to grow, which makes food hazardous for human consumption.
The food safety storage temperature standards require food to be cooled from 60°C to 21°C in a maximum of two hours and from 21°C to 5°C within a further maximum period of four hours.
If you are unsure how fast your food is cooling, buy and use a probe thermometer to measure the warmest part of the food (in the centre) to determine the temperature.
The quickest way to cool food is to divide it into smaller portions in shallow containers; just be sure not to contaminate foods by doing this.
Reheating cooled, cooked food
Reheating previously cooked food must also meet food safety storage temperatures. You must aim to reheat food rapidly to a temperature of 60°C or more.
Be aware, this only applies to hazardous food that should be eaten hot, not cooked food that can be eaten cold (quiche, for example).
Any food that is potentially hazardous, should be both cooled and reheated as quickly as possible. Similarly, the preparation of food should be done in as short a time as possible.
How to maintain adequate food safety storage temperatures for your cold room
Knowing the correct food safety storage temperatures is one thing, but maintaining your cool room or cooling equipment to adhere to these regulations is imperative.
If you have an under performing refrigeration unit, the chances are you may not be maintaining your food at the right food safety storage temperatures.
Maintain the condition of your cool room by calling in the experts to review and monitor your systems. Brisbane based business ML Refrigeration will send experienced technicians in commercial refrigeration to inspect your cool room, giving you peace of mind, knowing you are adhering to industry standards.
Remember that the Food Standards Code of Australia and New Zealand requires potentially hazardous food to be kept at either 5°C or colder, or at 60°C or hotter when it is received, displayed, transported or stored.
Contact ML Refrigeration to check your refrigeration systems
Don’t risk your business; food safety is paramount. Don’t be left out in the cold when it comes to refrigeration! Maintain your equipment so that you can sustain adequate food safety storage temperatures for your business. Call ML Refrigeration on 0420 993233 or complete the online contact form to schedule in a maintenance visit for your cool room.
Need further information or advice about food safety storage temperatures? ML Refrigeration is here to help!