An effective Food Safety Supervisor ensures that food is stored at the correct temperature on board a commercial vessel. This means keeping cold food cold and keeping hot food hot.
To prevent food poisoning, safe storage temperatures are 5°C or colder, or 60°C or hotter. Bacteria that cause food-borne illness can grow at temperatures between 5°C and 60°C, which is known as the “temperature danger zone.” The fastest rate of growth is at around 37°C, which is equivalent to human body temperature.
The Food Safety Standards also require you to have a thermometer, if you prepare, handle or sell potentially hazardous food. This will enable you to check that safe temperatures are being maintained. Clean and sanitise the thermometer with an alcohol swab before use and between checking each food.
When cooling cooked foods, the temperature should fall from 60°C (or over) to 21°C in less than two hours and be reduced below 5°C within the next four hours. Putting food into shallow containers and not overfilling them will help to cool it more rapidly.
The four-hour/two-hour guide applies to ready-to-eat potentially hazardous food. It provides the absolute maximum periods this food can be held safely at temperatures between 5°C and 60°C and what should happen to it after certain times. The times refer to the life of the food, including preparation and cooling, not just to display times.
Having a workplace on board a commercial vessel is challenging for Food Safety Supervisors who must ensure that food is stored at the correct temperature.