Reheating food is common practice, but are you doing it right? by Barry Parsons



Reheating food is a task that should be documented to demonstrate that the proper temperature and time was achieved. In general, all parts of food must be reheated to 165°F degrees for 15 seconds within two hours. Also, food can be reheated only one time because you are going through the temperature danger zone for a third time since the food was cooked, cooled, and now reheated.
 
If you use a microwave to reheat something, make sure all parts of the food are heated to 165°F degrees, rotate the food and/or stir it. Then, let it stand covered for two minutes before checking the temperature. If you take the temperature right away, it may not be accurate because the temperature has not yet balanced out across the entire food product.
 
When making a large batch of soup, chili, lasagna, chicken cordon bleu, or any other cooked dish, ensure the food is cooled properly following the two-stage cooling method. This process puts the food through the temperature danger zone (41°F-135°F, check your state's regulations) two times. A reheat will be the third time the food passes through the temperature danger zone (Read 2017 FDA Food Code, Annex 3, Reheating- 3-403.11). Since the food is handled several times, also make sure your personal hygiene policies and procedures are effective and followed. The FDA writes in the “2012 Bad Bug Book” that 50% of healthy people carry S. aureus and the toxins produced will not be killed by reheating.
 
Make sure to only reheat the estimated amount of product you will need for a given period (i.e. lunch rush) to maintain the quality of product. You should have par levels or daily estimated product production charts to use as a guide. You do not want the product to sit around for a long time in hot holding equipment (minimally at 135°F) and diminish the quality of the product. This could be a strong source of waste (shrink) because you can only reheat once. It is better to have to reheat smaller portions on an as needed basis.
 
Reheating food is a common practice. But that doesn't always mean it is being done correctly. Verify through your documentation that it is occurring according to your policies and procedures that must achieve regulatory requirements. The 2017 FDA Model Food Code lists a duty of the Person-in-Charge to periodically check the temperatures of hot and cold holding of foods as part of normal oversight (2-103.11, (I)).
 
Happy Heating! 
 
 
This blog is not intended to be a substitute for the user's judgement and common sense. Any errors are unintentional. 


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