The thunder of horses hooves, bright blooming flowers and the always-dreaded hay fever season all mean one thing – Spring is upon us once again. While this might mean it’s time to put away those bulky winter coats and begin emerging into the sunshine again, it’s also important to know how best to keep yourself and others safe when it comes to food safety – particularly regarding food safety temperatures.
One thing Spring invites is outdoor activities. Whether picnics, BBQ’s or just dining alfresco it’s important to take all necessary steps to maintain a high level of food safety in order to reduce the risk of becoming ill from incorrectly handled or prepared food.
Eating outside is often a beautiful way to enjoy your meal but it also brings with it a range of food safety issues – not least of which is temperature issues. There are very strict guidelines on how food should be stored, cooked or served and moving a meal outside can make it more likely to stray from those guidelines.
Keep it cool
High-risk foods or perishable foods, such as meat, dairy, eggs and seafood, should always be stored below 5 degrees Celsius. Typically this will mean in the fridge or freezer but if you’re planning on venturing out of the house, then you’re not likely to have access to either. However despite this, you still need to keep the food at the correct temperature. When transporting or storing food away from the home you can keep it cold by packing it with frozen cold packs in an insulated cooling chest, for example an Esky.
By using a food thermometer, you can monitor the temperature of the food to ensure it is kept at a safe level. Although, it is important to open the cooling compartment as little as possible so that the temperature remains low.
2 – 4 hour rule
Keeping food at the correct temperature is also important when it comes to serving time. Most food becomes high-risk when prepared, regardless of whether the ingredients are individually considered so. This means that salad or vegetable dishes are considered high-risk and must be treated the same way cooked meats are.
If you are enjoying a meal outside and food is kept over 5 degrees Celsius, it is important to know the 2 – 4 Hour Rule. This rule applies to food kept in the ‘Danger-Zone’ – between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius – for a certain length of time. It’s rules are simple:
- Perishable items that remain in the Danger-Zone for up to 2 hours can either be consumed, discarded or re-chilled to under 5 degrees Celsius.
- Perishable items that remain in the Danger-Zone for between 2 and 4 hours can either be consumed or discarded.
- Perishable items that remain in the Danger-Zone for more than 4 hours must be discarded.
However when enjoying food outside on a hot day it is important to remember that food can reach the Danger-Zone at a faster rate so it might be a good idea to reduce the time limits for each of the zones depending on your circumstances.
More tips to come
These are just two of the key areas of food safety when it comes to temperature control. We have heaps more useful tips coming to help you overcome a range of different food safety challenges, so keep an eye out for our next helpful article!