An Assessment of the Safety of Cooling Large Cooked Meats in the Catering Sector
Document Type Article
Food Protection Trends
Because of an increasing trend toward cooking large meat joints in advance of service, the process of cook-chill has become an integral part of the catering sector. However, there is concern that the cook-chill process is being adopted by many conventional catering establishments that are significantly lacking in the technology and management required for the process to be safe. Compliance and practices associated with the safety of the cook-chill process were examined in a range of 50 premises consisting of hotels, restaurants and take-aways. Significant malpractice was seen in the cooling of large cooked meats. None of the premises surveyed had rapid chillers, although 95% of them perform the cook-chill practice. Consequently, the cooling time required to reach the recommended 10 degree C extended for up to 9 h, in contrast to the specified maximum of 150 min, resulting in conditions appropriate for Clostridia growth. Approximately 50% of respondents were unaware of the relevant guidelines and opted to use guides that require less management control and financial investment. The cook-chill process in the catering sector lacks compulsory specifications, which may have misled caterers into concluding that their cooling practices are safe. Quantitative assessment of the cooling process through temperature monitoring provides a powerful tool for communicating to caterers the hazards associated with slow cooling of large cooked meats.