COVID-19 and reopening your restaurant

Attention all owners, managers and PIC

Congratulations! The announcement yesterday by Governor Hogan was the next step in reopening and is very exciting. It has been a hard time for all in the industry and you have taken the brunt of the pain. For those of you that cannot provide outdoor seating, we are thinking about you and hoping our state keeps moving forward with safe opening of indoor dining.

For everyone set up for outdoor dining, it is exciting to be able to see your regulars and do what you do best – serving great food. However, remember there are guidelines that you must follow to protect your guests and your staff from spreading the virus. 

I have compiled a few good resources for you to look at while you are planning your reopening. They are listed below. In addition to the excellent guidance from the FDA and National Restaurant Association I would like to remind you of a few key points.

Disinfectants are not sanitizers. They should not be used on Food Contact Surfaces. If they are the surface should be cleaned, rinsed and then sanitized in accordance with industry standards. 

Retrain staff on proper glove use. Some key points would be to never rewash gloves, they are a single task utensil, they should not be worn in replacement of handwashing, they can be a big source of cross contamination when used incorrectly.  Food handlers should wear gloves. Typically, servers and bartenders should not be wearing gloves. If they do, they must change and wash hands before putting on a fresh pair just as food handlers would.

Remind staff hand sanitizers are not a replacement to handwashing. They should only be used after proper handwashing when handling food.

Update your employee illness agreements. Many restaurants do not have staff sign the FDA forms for employee illness. Having these forms ensures that employee understand what they should be reporting. I recommend having an addition form specific to COVID-19 symptoms and exposure that the employee should be reporting to you. If you need assistance with the forms, we can help you with employee illness training. 

Flush your water systems, including hot water heater, all faucets and any where water may have been standing. If you have a decorative fountain you should ensure they are safe as well. Legionnaires’ disease is associated with water droplets that are inhaled from water containing the bacteria. Standing water could pose a greater risk.

Train your staff on how to handle COVID-19 related issues with guests.  Issues like too many guests at a table or maintaining facility-imposed time limits at tables could create problems. An improperly trained employee could escalate a problem unnecessarily.  Have a plan and train your staff on what the proper procedures should be to handle these situations.

Links for resources:

FDA Checklist for reopening a closed restaurant. 

National Restaurant Association Guidance Document

CDC information on Legionella

Free Training on COVID-19 for restaurants and food handler training until May 31st

The risk of third party delivery services

The problem:

The driver opens up the to go container to take a peak or worse a sampling of the food. By touching it, they could contaminate the food with bacteria or viruses, physical contamination could occur, or worst-case deliberate contamination such as spitting on the food.

In a study done by US Foods they found that 28% of drivers admit to taking food out from an order.  A quick search on the internet about this occurring and there are several cases. Vanessa Harrell, posted on Facebook that an UBER Eats driver ate some of her food! She was a regular patron and knew what the food should look like.

The Solution:

Use delivery bags that are tamper resistant like those pictured here.  As an alternative Seal 2 Go New Takeyou can seal each individual container with a tamper evident sticker, label or tape.  However, there have been several reports where from condensation the sticker “comes off” or “becomes loose” when attaching directly to the product container.  Do not use anything that can be easily recreated by the driver, like staples.  Notify the customer on the receipt or bag what they should look for so the driver can’t switch bags.   Also, make sure that before you seal the bag that all utensils, condiments and napkins are already included inside. 

The Real Cost:

Imagine, a customer getting food and thinking the portion was small? Not complaining, just not returning for more business?

uber eats driver using bathroom

You cannot control the quality of the food when it leaves your door, but if using delivery services, you must do what you can to protect it.  The driver, who might have little or no food service experience is now in charge of food safety and quality for your brand.  Food may get cold or dropped.  In the picture to the left, the driver took a delivery bag into the bathroom stall while doing his “business”.

Before signing up for a third-party service that claims increased sales, you should think about what the real cost is.  The fees of 20-30% of sale price cut into profits and quality control issues that could cause harm to your brand.  It might not be worth the increased sales to your bottom line.

Selling homemade goods using cottage food laws

Sandwich breadDo you make a great cookie or tasty home-baked bread?  Do your friends and family always ask you to decorate cakes for them?

Have you ever thought about starting your own business from home?  You can have up to $25,000 in sales a year and not need a health permit.  Effective October 1, 2019 there is even a pathway for you to sell to retail stores!  There are a few things you need to know first before getting too excited.

You need to understand the Cottage food industry laws in Maryland.  There are some limits on what you can make in your home kitchen.  Some of the foods you can not sell include; Jerky made from meat products, chocolate covered strawberries, cut fruit displays, cupcakes with buttercream icing and fruit pies.  You can sell items like; cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, breads and cakes without potentially hazardous toppings or fillings.  Potentially Hazardous means they need refrigeration.

You must label your items properly.   For instance you must have the list of ingredients and a statement saying “made by a cottage food business that is not subject to Maryland food safety regulations”.  Your sales also must only be in the state of Maryland.  That includes mailing orders outside the state.

You should also have a good knowledge of food safety.  This can be achieved by taking a food protection manager training.  The one day class is $145 and I bet your customers would be happy to know you have been properly trained in how to protect the food from contamination!  You can even post your official ServSafe certificate on your page!

If you want to learn more about the specific restrictions you can find them by clicking the Cottage Law link.  We are always happy to answer your questions so feel free to call the office at 410-687-1015.

Have a food safe day!

Sue

 

Bad advice on thawing your turkey

It’s that time of year when you are bombarded with posts and emails about food safety and Thanksgiving dinner.  Most of it is excellent advice. However, today I saw a post from a popular site about thawing your turkey. The post mentioned several methods of thawing, including submersed in a pan, under running water that is 70°F or below. However, it neglected to mention that if at anytime the exterior of the turkey goes above 41°F for more than 4 hours you should discard.

Using running water to thaw even a small turkey is not going to happen in under 4 hours. This would leave the exterior of the bird in the temperature danger zone (41°F – 135°F) for a period long enough to support the growth of certain bacteria associated with turkey like, Campylobacter jejuni, Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli O157:H7(E. coli), Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, Shigella and Staphyloccocus aureus. Some of these bacteria can form spores or toxins that will not be destroyed by normal cooking temperatures. You and your guests will likely suffer the consequences.

The CDC mentions that one method of thawing could be in a leakproof bag in cold water in your sink and changing the water every 30 minutes. Okay, I understand what they are suggesting, use cold water, the frozen bird will most likely keep the water below 41°F. But at what point after the bird is almost thawed and the water temperature rises thereby causing the surface to rise above 41°F? Furthermore, it is likely that your turkey has bacteria, why risk the risk of cross contamination during the changing of the water every 30 minutes. This is the same reason we do not rinse our poultry. Remember, if you are in a restaurant, this is not an approved method of thawing.

So, although thawing under running water is great for smaller items like shrimp, it should never be used as a thawing method for larger items. Be safe, plan ahead, and do it under refrigeration. Plan on 24 hours of thawing time for every 5 pounds.

Have a wonderful Holiday and always be food safe!

Sue

It’s almost Norovirus season!

Norovirus is the number one pathogen that causes foodborne illness in this country!  It is responsible for an estimated 20 million cases of each year.

Statistically more cases occur during the months of November – April.  No one really knows why other than possibly because we experience closer contact during the colder months.  But the facts are the facts and you should want to protect yourself, your customers and your family from getting sick.

Norovirus is often called the “stomach flu” but it is a virus.   You only need to consume a small number of cells to make you sick.  About 10-12 cells is all it takes.

Where does it come from? Human fecal matter.  That is right.  When you become sick from Norovirus you most likely consumed someone’s poop.  There is a possibility if you were near someone vomiting or cleaned up vomit or diarrhea you could have breathed it in.

Did you know that in retail food service facilities only about 30% of food handlers wash hands properly?  WHAT!

To make matters worse, Norovirus can survive on surfaces for up to 2 weeks and become a source of cross contamination.  When someone is sick with Norovirus and they feel better, it can still be in their fecal matter for as much as 2 weeks.   We are not talking about stuff you can see.  These are microscopic cells that cluster together.  When we consume it, we will most likely get sick!

What can you do to protect yourself and the food you serve?

  • Do not eat anything that was touched by unwashed hands and do not touch surfaces and put your hand in your mouth or other objects like pens.
  • Wash hands using soap, vigorously scrub all areas of the hands and exposed portion of the arm, rinse soap off and dry hands using a single use paper towel or air dryer. Use a paper towel to turn water off so you do not recontaminate hands.
  • Do not ever work when you have any diarrhea or vomiting.
  • Wash hands whenever they could have become contaminated. Like touching money, door handles, chairs, phones, before and after you touch a raw protein, after using the restroom and after entering the kitchen.
  • Do not touch ready to eat food like breads or ice without proper handwashing.
  • If someone in your home is sick, do not allow them in the kitchen. Throw out any food they may have touched. I know of a case where someone was eating out of a box of crackers, was later diagnosed with Norovirus and then a week after the person was better someone ate some of the crackers from the box and they became ill with Norovirus.  The contaminated cracker was the most likely source of the contamination.
  • Make sure you provide paper towels in the bathroom, even at home.
  • Clean and sanitize.
    • In your home, the CDC recommends “After you vomit or have diarrhea, immediately clean up the entire area using a bleach-based household cleaner as directed on the product label. If no such cleaning product is available, you can use a solution made with 5 tablespoons to 1.5 cups of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.” As a reminder if using on a food contact surface clean with detergent after the solution has dried.   The high concentration of chlorine can be toxic if consumed.
    • When cleaning and sanitizing surfaces in a retail food service facility you may want to use a disinfectant, however, remember if it is a food contact surface you must clean, rinse and sanitize before using them.

No one is immune from Norovirus, it can cause illness and even death.  Washing hands is the most important thing you can do to protect the food you and others consume.

As always, if you have a question, just ask!

Be food safe,

Sue Farace, CP-FS

Why do some restaurants succeed while most struggle ?

There are many factors that lead to the success of a restaurant.  You have heard the saying; location, location, location, but if the food is inconsistent and service subpar it will be hard to have long term success even in the best location.  You must have a combination of a good physical location that matches the food you are serving, an inviting and clean interior, consistent food quality, great customer service, a good marketing strategy that matches your brand and the funding to start and operate your new venture.

Often very hard working, ambitious people fail because they only focus on one or two aspects of what will create success.    One of the very first and most important tasks you need to tackle is your menu.  You may fine tune it as the process moves forward but you should have a good idea of what you type of foods you will be serving and the price point for each.  You must write a mission statement describing what your brand is about.  This should be two or three sentences.  If a friend asked what type of restaurant you are opening, this is what you would say.  Here is an example;

XYZ is a sit-down casual dining eatery that specializes in high quality made in house charcuterie, cheese and wine locally acquired and imported from around the world and artesian breads made in house fresh daily.  Sandwiches, soups and boards served in an artesian style of table service.  There is a small market area where customers can buy the offerings to take home.

I have a clear vision of what this facility will look like and what type of area it should be located.  It would be perfectly located in a walking area of a town, possibly where tourists frequent or near a theatrical venue.  At this time, we also should think about the equipment we would need to produce the menu items.  This is critical before signing a lease.  You must have the space to fit the equipment necessary and provide a kitchen that can prevent cross contamination.   One last thing before signing lease, make sure you have sufficient funding to build out the facility and operating capital to get started.

When the location is secure, you will need to contact an architect and plan out the facility layout.  You will need to submit drawings, the menu and in Maryland a HACCP plan to the local planning department.   There is much involved here and beyond the scope of this article, but we can help you wade through all the requirements.

When the plans are approved and construction is underway, you will have a lot of decisions to make.  From selecting finishes that match your branding, hiring upper management, securing contracts with food suppliers, pest management, refuse management, POS and credit processing, janitorial supplies, and the list goes on.

Before the facility opens the doors there is much to do.  Training the staff is critical. Not only should there be a certified manager on duty, you must train each and every team member.  Training should be job specific and ongoing.  When the facility is open, the person in charge (PIC) must be active and making sure that everyone is following procedures.

Finally, social media is an important aspect of any food service business.  Prospective customers will check customer review services like Yelp, Facebook and Google.   Any complaints must be addressed in a professional way.  Advertising should match your brand and be varied.  Some common mistakes are posting “stock” photos of food, incorrect information, getting into online arguments with customers and not addressing customer questions online.  The person handling your marketing can be a qualified in-house person or by hiring a marketing consultant.    The key is to be consistent with the brand established.

If you are thinking of starting a food facility, congratulations, it will be one of the most exciting times in your life.  We are here to offer our professional advice and walk through the process with you.  We have experience from conception through continuing operations.   We work with contractors and planning, menu planning, writing your HACCP plan, creating your food safety plan and training.  Do not hesitate to contact us at 410-687-1015.

 

About us;  Sue Farace, CP-FS has been in food service since 1997, before that she worked in the construction industry for 13 years.  She has owned several restaurants.  She provides training, HACCP plans and consulting and inspection services for over 10 years in Baltimore Metro Area.

Disclaimer: The information provided is intended to provide basic information that can increase your chance of being successful and does not guarantee success. Opening a restaurant is a risky venture. 

 

Employee Illness in retail food facilities

Why is it important to have a written policy and effective training for employee illness?

The cost of an outbreak is reported to be between $6,330 and $2.6 million dollars depending on type of retail facility and the severity of the illness. 3 An outbreak is classified as 2 or more people.  However, most illnesses related to foodborne illness go unreported and facilities are never implicated.  The thought of “We will most likely not be caught” should not be your policy on preventing foodborne illness.

 64% of outbreaks are from retail restaurants, 48% of those are from sit-down type facilities.1   58% of outbreaks 2 are from at least one employee being ill.  Only 47% of facilities implicated in outbreaks had a written policy on employee illness.

A study4 conducted that interviewed 491 workers from 391 randomly selected restaurants revealed some very important information about employee and management behaviors as it relates to employee illness.   59% of the employees surveyed reported working a shift while ill.  Out of those 59%, 63% of managers were aware of the illness!  81% of the time it was the employee that notified the manager, yet the employee was still allowed to work.  The reasons for continuing to work was;

  • 43% No paid sick leave or sick leave policy
  • 32% Understaffed or no one to cover shift
  • 30% Symptoms did not feel bad or not contagious and
  • 30% Felt obligated or strong work ethic.

Some indicated more than one reason.   This indicates that employees, not managers, were making decisions about when to work.  To make matter worse, of the ill employees that continued to work less than one third washed hands more frequently.

An FDA study published in 2004 found food establishments were frequently out of compliance with the Food Code requirements for proper and adequate handwashing. In the study, the percent of food establishments observed to be out of compliance with handwashing requirements ranged from 34% in hospitals and a whopping 73% in full-service establishments.

In my experience providing third party inspections, when I observed improper handwashing and explained the proper process, many had little to no understanding of how and when they should wash hands or they stated they didn’t have time.

This creates a perfect storm for transferring pathogens from hands of an ill employee to the surface of food.

What illnesses and medical conditions should management and employees be aware of?

There are certain illnesses, exposure to certain illnesses, or even infections that employees must report to management or the Person in Charge (PIC). The PIC must know what the next action should be.  This could be restricting the employee from working around exposed food, excluding the employee from facility and possibly reporting the diagnosis, illness or exposure to the authorities.   There are certain pathogens that employees must be made aware of.  These are called the Big 6.  They are;

  • Norovirus,
  • Hepatitis A virus,
  • Shigella spp.,
  • Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli,
  • Typhoid fever (caused by Salmonella Typhi) or
  • Salmonella (nontyphoidal).

Employees also should be made aware that they need to report excessive sneezing, coughing, general nasal discharge, skin cuts, lesions or infections and a sore throat with a fever. Vomiting and or Diarrhea, regardless of frequency.  Jaundice that is less than 7 days old must be reported as well.  Management and Employees should also understand the risks associated with Staphylococcus Aureus.

The person in charge should be most concerned with the following symptoms of foodborne illness;

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice (yellow skin or eyes)
  • Sore throat with fever
  • Infected cuts and burns with pus on hands and wrists

How are pathogens transferred to food and surfaces?

Transmission can happen in a variety of ways.  Hand to food contact, Hand to surface to food, surface to hand to food.   Water and oils in fecal matter can assist in the transfer of pathogens found in the feces.

How can the PIC prevent the spread of illness causing pathogens from ill employees?

  • Provide employee illness training to all staff members.
  • Be observant and inquire if employees appear to be ill.
  • Management must be informed of the specific circumstances that must be reported and when employees should be restricted from working around exposed food and when they should be excluded from facility.Details are available in the FDA food code subpart 2-201.11-13.
  • PIC must provide on-going and job specific training to all staff. Training should include;How easily pathogens like Norovirus can be transmitted, proper handwashing, proper glove use, and a reminder of all illnesses that must be reported.
  • Food handlers should be trained to not use bare hands to touch Ready to Eat (RTE) foods.
  • Provide a culture where reporting illness and missing shifts does not threaten employee hours or job security.
  • Create a culture of good hand care and reward staff for good practices.
  • Provide adequate supplies for proper hand care and tools for touching RTE foods.

Employee responsibilities and preventions

  • Reporting illnesses as required
  • Always, wash hands when required and using proper methods.
  • Report workers that are not reporting illness to PIC or are not properly washing hands.

It is important that the PIC be knowledgeable about employee illness, reporting, exclusion, and restricting of employees.  This is discussed briefly in the Food Manager Protection training (ServSafe).  Trained staff members must make sure the all staff are trained in employee illness as well.  If you would like assistance creating an employee illness training for your staff, please contact us.  We can provide decision trees, employee agreement forms and other training tools.

 

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/fdoss/pdf/2017_FoodBorneOutbreaks_508.pdf
  2. NORS and NEARS system, CDC
  3. https://www.qsrmagazine.com/outside-insights/tremendous-cost-foodborne-illnesses-and-what-do-about-it
  4. Carpenter, L. R., A. L. Green, D. M. Norton, R. Frick, M. TobinD’Angelo, D. W. Reimann, H. Blade, D.C. Nicholas, J. S. Egan, K. Everstine, L. G. Brown and B. Le. 2013 Food worker experience with and beliefs about working while ill. J. Food Prot. 76:2146-2154.

Monitoring Food Temperatures

Monitoring refrigeration units.

Have you ever had a unit break down in the middle of the day?  How about a unit that just can’t seem to maintain food temperatures below 41°F?

Both present potential risks to food safety.  Proper monitoring of your units can avoid the costly choice of throwing food away that has become unsafe.

What is required by Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR)?  Section 10.15.03.06 pertains to storage, service and transport of foods in retail establishments in Maryland.  Today we will focus on monitoring cold food storage only.

The internal temperature of the food must be maintained to avoid pathogenic bacteria and other microorganisms that could cause spoilage.  Most food must be held at 41°F or below except; shell eggs can be stored at 45°F or less, certain reduced oxygen packaged foods like crab meat should be stored at 38°F or less.

The temperature measuring device has 2°F markings, accurate within +- 2°F, calibrated at least annually, is easily readable, and located in the warmest area of unit where food is stored.

Anytime Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods or as COMAR calls them, Potentially Hazardous Food (PHF) goes above the required temperature for more than 4 hours the product must be discarded.

This is a summary of the regulations, for complete information read the regulation.

How often are you required to monitor foods?

Surprisingly, there is no regulation that states how often you must monitor foods.  You do need to make sure temperatures are maintained.  So that would infer that you should monitor every 4 hours so you can take the corrective action of throwing the food away.

How often do I recommend you monitor food temperatures?

I recommend that you monitor and record your refrigeration and cooler temperatures every 2 hours.  This will provide you with a verifiable temperature that can be used in case the unit experiences a problem.  The following are two similar examples with different outcomes

Example 1: You monitored the temperature at 12 PM and at 4 PM you discovered the product temperature to be at 57°F.  The only corrective action you can take is to discard the food.

Example 2: You monitored and recorded the temperature at 12 PM and then again at 2 PM.  At that time you discover the food temperature to be at 52°F.  You could move the food to another unit, perhaps a freezer and quick chill the product.  Check the temperature again at 4 PM to verify it is at 41°F or below.  If it is, you just saved your inventory!  The reason is because you had a verifiable temperature at 12 PM and could verify the food was not out of temperature for more than 4 hours.

Important to remember in example 2 is that the temperature was verifiable.  Had it not been recorded you would have needed to discard the food.  The code specifically states that food must be discarded if “The food has exceeded 41°F or more for more than 4 hours; or the time the food has been out of temperature is not verifiable”

How should you monitor temperatures?

You could take the internal temperature of each food in your unit but that would be time consuming and possibly increase the risk of cross contamination.  Monitoring is typically accomplished by having a thermometer in the warmest part of the unit.  I do not recommend using the digital readout on the outside of the unit.  If you notice the lead is typically in one of the coldest parts of the unit, not the warmest.  Try this experiment.  During peak times check what the reader says and then check the internal thermometer and the internal temperature of the food.  Most of the times there will be a difference in these temperatures.  In my experience sometimes 7°F or more.

Remember the thermometer used for monitoring needs to be accurate +-2°F and have markings every 2°.   COMAR requires it be calibrated at least annually however, if it is dropped or undergoes any kind of abuse it should be checked for accuracy.    One simple way to check the stand-up or hanging type is place several in the same unit and make sure they are all the same. Confirm temperature by checking the internal temperature of food that has been in the unit.  It should be with in a degree or two.

If you have any questions about monitoring your temperatures and corrective actions please contact us, we are here to help.

PFA’s in compostable carry out containers

The internet is blowing up about Chipotle and their bowls.  Guess they are an easy target since they have had some mis-steps in the last few years.  However, I feel like they deserve a little pass on this one.

Let me explain.  I did a little research and read the article by Joe Fassler.  He is The New Food Economy’s features editor. He was the one that initiated Notre Dame Chemist Graham Peaslee to test the containers of 14 different locations from 8 different restaurants in NY city.   What they found was that in all of the different samples there was high levels of Florine.  The presence of Florine indicates the bowls were treated with PFA’s.  PFA’s can be linked to a long list of health problems including cancer.

The article that Mr Fassler wrote is long and in excellent detail, so I am not going to rehash his article in my words.  You can read it here:  https://newfoodeconomy.org/pfas-forever-chemicals-sweetgreen-chipotle-compostable-biodegradable-bowls/

However, here are a few takeaways I learned;

  • Of the 8 different locations Chipotle was the second highest offender of levels of Florine. Dig had the highest levels.  Sweet Green was the lowest.  Odd that Chipotle and Sweet Green were called out specifically.
  • Although more testing and information about the bowls would need to be obtained, based on the Florine levels the bowls are most likely within FDA guidelines for PFA’s.
  • PFA’s can be transferred from one surface to another.
  • PFA’s allow the plant-based bowls to be used with greasy, wet and hot foods.
  • PFA’s are not biodegradable and will live on forever.
  • All the bowls were certified as “compostable” by certifying company BPI.
  • BPI is changing standards and of Jan 1, 2020. Any bowls treated with PFA’s will no longer pass certification as compostable.
  • When bowls are composted the compost can then be affected. Transferring the PFA’s to food supply during planting and growing.
  • When bowls are thrown in the landfill the PFA’s can leach into water and even after water treatment the PFA’s could be found in our drinking water.
  • PFA’s can be found in many other non-food sources especially fire-resistant carpeting.

My biggest concern is not with the restaurants using theses bowls but with the manufacturers that make them.  They knew they were adding PFA’s, they new that they are not biodegradable.  How was it that they were certified compostable and marketed as such?  There is no other alternative to the clam shells or Styrofoam on the market at this time.  What is a carry out to do when the public and now some cities demand not using Styrofoam ?

 

 

Monitoring cold and hot holding temperatures

How often do you check your cold hold and hot hold temperatures?

In food service we must be careful to maintain proper temperatures on temperature control for safety foods (TCS), sometimes referred to potentially hazardous foods (PHF’s).  Temperature control will control the growth of pathogenic bacteria and other microorganisms that could cause spoilage.

Regulation

Remember, most cold TCS food must be maintained at a temperature of 41°F or below.  Some reduced oxygen packaged food and pasteurized crab meat must be held at 38°F or below.  Hot foods must be maintained at a temperature of 135°F or above for no more that 4 hours.

Monitoring

Monitoring of these temperatures is critical.  How often you monitor depends on what you would want possible corrective actions to be.   If you choose to monitor every 4 hours and you discover the temperature of cold food to be above 41°F or hot food being held below 135° F, the only corrective action will be to discard.  However, if you monitor every 2 hours you may have sufficient time to take a corrective action that will save your food.

Corrective Action

For cold food you can remove from unit that is not maintaining temperature, quick chill in a different unit or freezer and get temperature down to 41°F or below.  Hot food that is below 135°F can be quickly reheated to 165°F or above and your 4 hours starts over.

There is a BUT!  This only works if the original temperature reading is verifiable.  That means it must have been recorded on the product package or in a log book.  The saying goes, “if you didn’t document, you didn’t do it”.

Here is an example:  You placed some chicken soup on hot hold at 12 PM.  You record temperature and place a sticker on the holding pot.  The temperature was recorded at 155°F.  At 3 PM a customer complains the soup is cold, you check the temperature and discover the soup is at 100°F.  You quickly place soup in a stock pot and reheat.  You just saved the soup.  But had the temperature not been recorded at 12 PM you could not have taken this corrective action and would have had to discard the soup. 

Another example:  At 10 AM you check the temperature of you walk in by looking at the thermometer hanging in the warmest part of the unit.  It is 38°F, perfect.   Around 1:30 PM an employee mentions that the unit feels a little warm.  You check and the temperature is 57 °F!  Oh no!  But since you didn’t write the temperature down it is not verifiable and the TCS food in the walk-in should be discarded.   

Same example but this time you recorded the temperature, you check the unit at 12 PM and discovered the unit was 48°F.  You immediately call for service, remove TCS food, place in other units for a quick chill, check the temperature of the food at 4PM and it is all 41°F or below and you just saved a lot of money by taking the time to check your cold units every two hours and recording the temperature.