Don't Sleep on Reheating by Mark Barnes



Reheating food is a daily activity for most folks in the food business. Whether that means heating yesterday’s soup on the stove top for today’s lunch, setting up the line for dinner service with sauces and sides, or popping a prepped casserole or entree into the oven - reheating is fundamental because it significantly reduces waste, while also cutting down on the daily preparation needs. While this practice is common and beneficial, we need to stress the importance of always reheating food safely and to the proper temperature.
 
The FDA Food Code tells us that TCS (time & temperature control for safety) foods that have been properly cooked and cooled must be reheated to 165° F within two hours or 135° F within two hours for Commercially Processed Foods. In order to effectively meet the required temperature within the maximum allotted time (two hours), we must use actual cooking equipment to reheat the food.
 
What I mean is that it is not uncommon in commercial kitchens to discover a food handler using a steam table, soup kettle, warming box, or drawer to “reheat” a food product. This practice is not the correct method for reheating and can be very dangerous. When utilizing hot holding equipment to reheat food, it’s unlikely the food will ever reach the required temperature, let alone within the two-hour time limit. This could lead to very serious food safety issues.
 
Was the food properly cooled after initial cooking?
 
If not, it could have significant amounts of microorganisms present. Even if the product was cooled properly, microorganisms are present in our refrigerators and do grow, albeit slowly, at refrigeration temperatures.
 
The point is - it’s likely that there are live microorganisms present on food to be reheated. Only proper and thorough cooking using actual cooking equipment results in a food product that we can confidently serve to our customers. Don't let your staff sleep on the importance of proper reheating.


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