Running a Restaurant: Time and Temperature

You know what sucks a lot? Going out to eat and getting sick. If you run a restaurant, you don’t want any of your customers to get sick. In the ongoing war against illnesses that could make your customers sick, you have two major foes to fight: time and temperature. We’re not just talking about feeling pressure when the dining room is packed; we’re talking actual minutes and actual warmth in the room.

Starting with temperature, you want to keep food out of the danger zone, which is the prime temperature that bacteria can form. That danger zone is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Food should be kept below 40 degrees when in storage and must be cooked to above 140 degrees before being served. No exceptions and no questions. Of course, if you have a piece of raw chicken (which, by the way, comes in contaminated and can be managed if handled correctly) sits on the cutting board for twenty minutes, chances are you’re okay. But if it sits there (or anything sits) in room temperature for over two hours, you’ve got a potential problem.

Now that you know the danger zone, let’s discuss how to deal with it:
-Check your food temperatures when preparing it with sanitized thermometers.
-Always store food above or below the temperature that lines the danger zone. Always with no exception.
-Label and date containers of perishable foods and always practice FIFO (first in, first out) to avoid spoiling.
-Don’t let food thaw in room temperature; take it from the freezer and put it in the cooler, or run it under hot water if your health department is cool with it.
-Cook foods at the proper temperatures (duh).
-Cool cooked food immediately and as fast as you can.
-If you decide to reheat food, only do it once. After that, toss it.

Remember, sick customers leads to complaints, and complaints can quickly turn to a closed restaurant. We want your restaurant to stay open, so follow those steps above so you can avoid sick customers.

One Fat Frog • 2416 Sand Lake Road • Orlando, FL 32809 • 407-480-3409