I passed my exam! What exam is that you ask? The ServSafe Manager Exam, administered through the National Restaurant Association. It is a nationally recognized exam that certifies you in food safety knowledge. It covers topics on safe flow of foods through a professional operation. As I was studying for the exam, I thought that many of the principals that I was learning, also apply to the home cook. Here are some of the most important topics:
1) Cook food to the correct temperature. A food thermometer is one of the most important tools to have in a kitchen! Here is a quick overview of minimal internal temperatures that are safe for eating. Measure the temperature with a thermometer, in the thickest part of the meat (avoiding any bone), giving it 15 seconds to register.
- Poultry (and stuffed meats) – 165 degrees
- Ground meat – 155 degrees
- Steak/chops of beef/pork/veal/lamb – 145 degrees
- Seafood (including shellfish) – 145 degrees
- Roast of pork/beef/veal/lamb – 145 degrees
2) Clean and sanitize your cutting boards and utensils after each use, in order to prevent cross contamination of foods.
3) This may seem obvious, but washing your hands with soap and water is a critical part of keeping food safe.
4) Cold food is safest stored at below 41 degrees, and hot food is safest kept above 135 degrees. Defrost food in the refrigerator. The danger zone where pathogen growth happens, is when you keep food for more than 3 hours between 41 and 135 degrees.
5) Purchase food from reliable sources. Use the “FIFO” principal when shopping and storing food: “first in, first out”. Check use-by dates and when in doubt, throw it out!
6) Only eight foods account for about 90% of all allergic reactions. These foods are milk, eggs, white fishes, wheat, soy, peanuts, shellfish and tree nuts.
Source: ServSafe Manager