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Restaurant Food Cooling Practices

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Abstract:

Improper food cooling practices are a significant cause of foodborne illness, yet little is known about restaurant food cooling practices. This study was conducted to examine food cooling practices in restaurants. Specifically, the study assesses the frequency with which restaurants meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations aimed at reducing pathogen proliferation during food cooling. Members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Environmental Health Specialists Network collected data on food cooling practices in 420 restaurants. The data collected indicate that many restaurants are not meeting FDA recommendations concerning cooling. Although most restaurant kitchen managers report that they have formal cooling processes (86%) and provide training to food workers on proper cooling (91%), many managers said that they do not have tested and verified cooling processes (39%), do not monitor time or temperature during cooling processes (41%), or do not calibrate thermometers used for monitoring temperatures (15%). Indeed, 86% of managers reported cooling processes that did not incorporate all FDA-recommended components. Additionally, restaurants do not always follow recommendations concerning specific cooling methods, such as refrigerating cooling food at shallow depths, ventilating cooling food, providing open-air space around the tops and sides of cooling food containers, and refraining from stacking cooling food containers on top of each other. Data from this study could be used by food safety programs and the restaurant industry to target training and intervention efforts concerning cooling practices. These efforts should focus on the most frequent poor cooling practices, as identified by this study.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-12-256

Affiliations: 1: National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MS F60, 4770 Buford Highway, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA. lrgreen@cdc.gov 2: Metro Nashville–Davidson County Public Health Department, 311 23rd Avenue, North Nashville, Tennessee 37203, USA 3: Rhode Island Department of Health, 3 Capitol Hill, Cannon Building, Room 203, Providence, Rhode Island 02908, USA 4: Minnesota Department of Health, 12 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 2105, Mankato, Minnesota 56001, USA 5: Minnesota Department of Health, 625 Robert Street North, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55164, USA 6: New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Community Environmental Health & Food Protection, 547 River Street, Flannigan Square, Room 515, Troy, New York 12180, USA

Publication date: 2012-12-01

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