Food Safety, Sanitation, and Personal Hygiene

9 Developing a Food Safety Plan

You should always know, without a doubt, that the food you serve your customers is safe. The only way you can be sure of this is by developing and following a food safety plan (FSP).

There are two types of food safety plans: process based and recipe based. A process-based FSP is often used when the same process is used for several different food items, or when menu items change regularly, such as on a daily special sheet. For example, the process for cooking pork chops and chicken breasts is very similar, as is the process for cooking bacon and sausages. A process-based food safety plan for the station preparing these items will ensure the steps to food safety are being followed.

Whether the FSP is process based or recipe based, the seven basic steps for creating one are the same. This section leads you through these steps by using a basic recipe and turning it into a food safety plan.

Recipe

SAMPLE RECIPE: BEEF STEW
Ingredients Weights and Measures
Stewing beef (pre-cooked) 2.5 kilograms
Beef stew base, beef consommé, beef gravy 1 can (each)
Vegetables (frozen) 2 packages
Seasoning 1 packet
Water 5 litres

PREPARING

  1. Pour beef stew base, beef consommé, and beef gravy into stock pot. Add water and seasoning. Stir with wire whisk until all seasoning is dissolved.

COOKING

  1. Preheat stove. Begin heating beef stew mix.
  2. Break up any clumps in the frozen vegetables. Add to the beef stew mix. Stir with long-handled spoon.
  3. Add cooked stewing beef and stir. Simmer for 30 minutes.

SERVING AND HOLDING

  1. Serve immediately, or
  2. Hold beef stew in hot hold unit.

COOLING

  1. Store any leftovers in a covered pan in the cooler.

REHEATING

  1. Reheat beef stew until steaming.

Step 1: Find the food safety hazards and critical control points.

  • Look at your menu. Find those menu items that are potentially hazardous foods (PHFs) or that have one or more PHFs as ingredients.
  • For each of these menu items, think about the steps the food goes through from when you first get the ingredients to when you serve it to your customers.
  • To make this step easier, use your recipe to review every ingredient, or make a flow chart for each menu item.
  • Consider the list of top 10 causes of foodborne illness. For each menu item, ask yourself if it is handled in any of the ways shown on the list: Does the food ever go through the temperature range in the danger zone? Is it cooked and then cooled? Hot held? Reheated? Remember, most food-poisoning cases involve food that has been heated up and then cooled down through the danger zone.
  • Is the food handled a lot by workers? Could it be contaminated by a sick worker?
  • Could the food be contaminated by raw food or dirty equipment after it is cooked?

If the answer is yes to any of the questions in the list above, then the menu item has a food safety hazard that must be controlled.

Now let’s apply this to the beef stew recipe.

Beef stew is a PHF. The main hazards with this menu item would be:

  • Pathogens in the raw beef stew
  • Pathogens in the cooked beef stew that survived the cooking step or that were accidentally introduced after the cooking step and then given a chance to grow if the cooked beef stew is temperature abused

Step 2: Identify where and when you have to control the hazards for each menu item.

In Step 1 you found the food safety hazards in a specific menu item that must be controlled. Now you must find the steps in the food preparation process where these hazards can best be controlled. (These steps are called critical control points.)

The critical control point is the “kill step” where the bacteria are either killed by cooking or are controlled to prevent or slow their growth (such as by proper hot holding or rapid cooling). Cooking, cooling, hot holding, and reheating are always critical control points. For ready-to-eat foods (e.g., sandwiches, salads), all steps where hands touch foods are critical control points.

Highlight the critical control points in your recipe or flow chart of the menu item by underlining them or highlighting them with a marker.

Here is the same recipe with the critical control points identified:

SAMPLE RECIPE: BEEF STEW (with critical control points identified)
Ingredients   Weights and Measures
Stewing beef (pre-cooked)                         2.5 kilograms
Beef stew base, beef consommé, beef gravy 1 can (each)
Vegetables (frozen) 2 packages
Seasoning 1 packet
Water 5 litres

PREPARING

  1. Pour beef stew base, beef consommé, and beef gravy into stock pot. Add water and seasoning. Stir with wire whisk until all seasoning is dissolved.

COOKING (critical control point)

  1. Preheat stove. Begin heating beef stew mix.
  2. Break up any clumps in the frozen vegetables. Add to the beef stew mix. Stir with long-handled spoon.
  3. Add cooked stewing beef and stir. Simmer for 30 minutes.

SERVING AND HOLDING (critical control point)

  1. Serve immediately, or
  2. Hold beef stew in hot hold unit.

COOLING (critical control point)

  1. Store any leftovers in a covered pan in the cooler.

REHEATING (critical control point)

  1. Reheat beef stew until steaming.

Step 3: Set critical limits or procedures to control the hazards.

Once you have identified the food safety hazards and where to control them (the critical control points), you need to set limits or procedures to control the hazard at each critical control point. This includes identifying minimum cooking temperature/times, maximum time to cool foods , minimum hot hold temperatures, etc.

You can incorporate most control procedures or limits right onto your recipe cards. Now look at the beef stew recipe showing both the critical control points and critical limits. You will see that the cooking temperature and time, the hot hold temperature, the cooling temperatures and times, and the reheating temperature and times (the critical control points) have the limits written right into the recipe.

SAMPLE RECIPE: BEEF STEW (with critical control points and critical limits identified)
Ingredients   Weights and Measures
Stewing beef (pre-cooked)                         2.5 kilograms
Beef stew base, beef consommé, beef gravy 1 can (each)
Vegetables (frozen) 2 packages
Seasoning 1 packet
Water 5 litres

PREPARING

  1. Pour beef stew base, beef consommé, and beef gravy into stock pot. Add water and seasoning. Stir with wire whisk until all seasoning is dissolved.

COOKING (critical control point)

  1. Preheat stove. Begin heating beef stew mix.
  2. Break up any clumps in the frozen vegetables. Add to the beef stew mix. Stir with long-handled spoon.
  3. Add cooked stewing beef and stir. Continue heating beef stew until 74°C (165°F) or hotter is reached for at least 15 seconds (critical limit). Simmer for 30 minutes.

SERVING AND HOLDING (critical control point)

  1. Serve immediately, or
  2. Hold beef stew at 60°C (140°F) or hotter in hot hold unit (critical limit)

COOLING (critical control point)

  1. Cool in shallow pans with product depth not to exceed 5 cm (2 in.), stirring frequently while cooling. Product temperature must reach 20°C (70°F) within 2 hours and then 4°C (60°F) within next 4 hours (critical limit).

REHEATING (critical control point)

  1. Reheat beef stew to an internal temperature of 74°C (160°F) or hotter for at least 15 seconds within 2 hours – one time only (critical limit).

Step 4: Check the critical limits.

You have now set critical limits for each critical control point. Next you want to make sure the limits that you’ve set are actually being followed. To do this they must be checked regularly.

  • For those critical control points that involve temperature, this means measuring the actual internal temperature of the food (whether cooking, cooling, or hot holding).
  • For those critical control points that involve things that workers do, this means first training them to make sure they know how to do their jobs properly, and then watching them regularly to make sure they keep doing it right.

Make sure everyone in your operation knows their responsibilities for checking critical limits. Make it a part of their job description.

Step 5: Set up procedures to handle control problems.

Workers must also know what to do if a process or step does not meet critical limits and what corrective action can be taken.

Problems happen when critical limits are not met. You must have a plan in place when a critical limit is not met. These procedures are called corrective actions.

Examples of corrective actions might include:

  • Rejecting received products that are unacceptable (broken containers, etc.)
  • Adjusting a thermostat in the cooler to get the proper temperature
  • Recooking or reheating a food again to get to the proper temperature (one time only)
  • Changing the food handling steps
  • Throwing the food away

If you find a problem, correct it right away, and remember, If in doubt, throw it out!

Let’s again use the beef stew recipe and include corrective actions to take when critical limits are not met. In most cases, the corrective actions are common sense and can easily be incorporated into the recipe or flow chart. Also add any food safety steps that are important to keep in mind prior to and while preparing the recipe.

Once you have added the corrective actions and safety steps, you have a completed food safety plan for the beef stew recipe.

SAMPLE RECIPE: BEEF STEW (with critical control points, critical limits, and corrective actions identified)
Ingredients   Weights and Measures
Stewing beef (pre-cooked)                         2.5 kilograms
Beef stew base, beef consommé, beef gravy 1 can (each)
Vegetables (frozen) 2 packages
Seasoning 1 packet
Water 5 litres

PREPARING

  1. Pour beef stew base, beef consommé, and beef gravy into stock pot. Add water and seasoning. Stir with wire whisk until all seasoning is dissolved.

COOKING (critical control point)

  1. Preheat stove. Begin heating beef stew mix.
  2. Break up any clumps in the frozen vegetables. Add to the beef stew mix. Stir with long-handled spoon.
  3. Add cooked stewing beef and stir. Continue heating beef stew until 74°C (165°F) or hotter is reached for at least 15 seconds critical limit. If the critical limit has not been met, continue to cook until it has been met (corrective action) Simmer for 30 minutes.

SERVING AND HOLDING (critical control point)

  1. Serve immediately, or
  2. Hold beef stew at 60°C(140°F) or hotter in hot hold unit (critical limit). If critical limit has not been met, increase thermostat on holding unit (corrective action).

COOLING (critical control point)

  1. Cool in shallow pans with product depth not to exceed 5 cm (2 in.), stirring frequently while cooling. Product temperature must reach 20°C (70°F) within 2 hours and then 4°C (60°F) within next 4 hours (critical limit). If critical limit is not met, modify the cooling procedure to ensure food does not stay in the danger zone or discard food (corrective action).

REHEATING (critical control point)

  1. Reheat beef stew to an internal temperature of 74°C (160°F) or hotter for at least 15 seconds within 2 hours – one time only (critical limit). If the critical limit has not been met, continue to heat food until it has been met (corrective action).

Remember these safety steps:

  • Receiving: Check temperature of the beef at delivery to ensure the temperature is below 4°C. Check package of beef for damage. If the beef or packaging is damaged or the temperature is above 4°C, refuse the product. Ensure the product is from approved suppliers
  • Storing: Put beef into the cooler immediately.
  • Preparing: Measure all temperatures with a cleaned and sanitized thermometer. Wash hands before handling food, after handling raw foods, and after any interruption that may contaminate hands. Wash, rinse and sanitize all equipment and utensils before and after use. Return all ingredients to refrigerated storage if preparation is interrupted. Clean and sanitize all tools and equipment according to the cleaning schedule before reusing.

Figure 2 shows in detail a process-based food safety plan flow chart. The plan identifies the critical control points and critical limits in the process for cooking and reheating hot foods and provides a monitoring step and corrective action to minimize risk at each of the critical control points.

Figure 4. Process-based food safety plan

Figure 5. Process-based food safety plan: hot entrée station (hot entrée items: chicken cacciatore, beef bourguignon, turkey tetrazzini)
Hazards Monitoring action Corrective action Checks Actions
Receiving raw meats and poultry

Safety step

Bacterial growth during transportation

Cross-contamination during transport

Physical contamination during transport

Sourced from approved suppliers

Remained colder than 4°C (39°F) during transport.

Delivered in secure packaging

Ensure supplier is on approved list.

Check temperature of product and vehicle on delivery.

Ensure packaging is secure.

Refuse delivery if any of the following are found:

  • Supplier is not on approved list
  • Temperature of product is above 4°C (39°F)
  • Packaging is damaged
Storing ingredients

Safety step

Bacterial growth during storage

Cross-contamination during storage

Stored between 0° and 4°C (32°F and 39°F)

Raw meats and poultry are stored separately from each other and below ready-to-use or prepared foods

Check temperature of cooler twice each shift.

Monitor storage locations in cooler.

If ingredients have been stored over 4°C (39°F) for less than 2 hours, move to a cooler at the correct temperature

If ingredients have been stored over 4°C (39°F) for more than 2 hours, discard food

If raw meats and poultry have been stored above ready to eat or prepared foods, modify storage procedures and discard any foods that have been contaminated

Preparation

Safety step

Cross-contamination by food handlers Use clean hands

Use sanitized utensils

Do not work when sick

Visual observation.

Do not allow employees to work when sick.

Follow proper handwashing procedures

Provide sanitized utensils for preparation

Send sick employees home

Cooking

Critical control point

Survival of pathogens during cooking process Cook foods to a minimum of 74°C (165°F) Measure and record internal temperature at the end of the cooking time. If food has not reached 74°C (165°F), continue cooking until it reaches 74°C (165°F)
Hot holding
Critical control point
Bacterial growth following cooking process Cover foods and hold hotter than 60°C (140°F) Check temperature of food every 2 hours. If food has been held below 60°C (140°F) for less than 2 hours, reheat food to 74°C (165°F), and transfer to a clean container.

Increase temperature of storage equipment to above 60°C (140°F)

Reheat food only once

If food has been held at below 60°C (140°F) for more than 2 hours, discard food

Serving

Critical control point

Cross-contamination by servers Use clean hands

Use sanitized utensils

Do not work when sick

Visual observation.

Do not allow employees to work when sick.

Follow proper handwashing procedures

Provide sanitized utensils for serving

Send sick employees home

Step 6: Keep accurate records. Review them regularly to make sure that the controls are working.

You and your workers are now taking corrective actions when critical limits are not met. To make sure that the controls are working, you have to keep records of the checks that are being done, and any corrective actions that have been taken

A regular review of these records will quickly tell you if your controls are working and if your workers are handling the foods properly. If your records show a problem, fix it right away.

Step 7: Check your food safety plan to make sure it’s working.

At least once a year you should check your food safety plan to make sure it is working and is complete. Verify with your environmental health officer that your plan is appropriate. Questions to ask yourself can include:

  • Are there any new foods or recipes being served?
  • Have you changed recipes for some foods?
  • Have any preparation steps been changed?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you probably need to adjust your food safety plan.

License

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Developing a Food Safety Plan by The BC Cook Articulation Committee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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