Do you use time as a control?
Are you wondering what that means?
Here are some examples of when my clients have successfully used time as a control on TCS foods;
- Breading mixes that are in almost constant use. You may be breading items like fish or chicken every 15-30 minutes and refrigerating the breading isn’t practical.
- Catering or displays of food.
- A cold holding station does not maintain 41°F or below during peak times.
- Cooked pizza displayed and being sold by the slice but 135°F is not being maintained.
These are just a few times when you may need to use time rather than temperature to control the safety of your food. Remember from the food safety training class you learned that food left in the temperature danger zone (41°F – 135°F) for more than 4 hours is discarded. This is because bacteria can grow to levels that can make the customer sick after this time period.
So, using this principle we can use time as a control, rather than temperature. This is sometimes called “time as a public health control”.
The following information is for Maryland retail food facilities, remember that your county/city may have different regulations and you should always follow those rules. The basic rules that you will need to follow are:
- You must obtain written permission from the local health department. This means it MUST be in your HACCP plan as a critical control point for that food product.
- You must have verification procedures in place. Either have a log or time stamp the product container with the time it was removed from temperature control and the time it must be discarded.
- There needs to be procedures in place to make sure the food is discarded at or before the 4 hours.
As you can see there may be valid times when using time as a control could be very beneficial.
If you have any specific questions about this topic or any other questions about food safety, please contact our office at 410-687-1015 and we will be happy to help.
The code this is based on is listed in COMAR 10.15.03.08 Use of time-only with potentially hazardous foods. The above information is advisory in nature only.