According to the CDC, foods heated during preparation and also later cooled for cold storage, or cold consumption are the reason of more foodborne condition outbreaks than any other process in the ready of food.

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Potato salad, a staple at plenty of backyard gatherings, is the perfect example of a food that is prepared hot and also served cold. Improper cooling during preparation deserve to contaminate the batch leaving that teeming v bacteria. The trick to worry-free potato salad is merely a issue of managing time and temperature.

The temperature “danger zone” incorporates the temperatures in between 41°F and also 140°F. That this temperature space that provides the most stable environment for bacteria come multiply. The longer food is permitted to sit in the danger zone, the an ext bacteria grows, and the greater chance the consuming it will bring about foodborne illness.

Many think mayonnaise (left in the danger zone) is come blame for contaminating their potato salad. In reality, mayo actually acts as a preservative, which protects the potato salad indigenous bacteria. Commercially purchased mayonnaise is made v pasteurized egg (heated to 140°F) and has a high mountain content that in reality slows bacteria growth. ~ above the other hand, homemade mayo, which is made through raw eggs, is no safe and should be avoided.

Instead, the real culprits behind many bad batches of potato salad room the eggs and also potatoes. Each one is a potentially hazardous food (PHF) it is loaded with proteins and carbohydrates – everything bacteria needs to thrive. Those more, these space the two ingredients the are first prepared hot, climate cooled and added to the various other ingredients. Throughout the cooling phase, as soon as food is improperly cooled, bacteria grows and also the food is made dangerous.

The Food and Drug administration (FDA) has developed cooling accuse as component of your Hazardous evaluation and crucial Control point (HACCP) record criteria set up because that commercial food handlers. Your three action cooling process ensures food is safe for consumption, and also is one the can easily be simulated at home.

Step One: Reduce portion Size

The basic rule to cooling liquid, or solid warm foods easily is to produce as much surface area as feasible by reducing the part size. Larger batches should be divided up into an ext manageable portions. If you’re do potato salad, think about laying your hot potatoes in one layer over a cookie sheet and also letting them cool at room temperature (69-73°F). Whole potatoes must be diced (as directed by recipe) to rise surface area and also speed up the cooling process.

Follow the same procedures with your hard boiled eggs. Peel automatically after removing them from the heat, dice and spread out onto a tray and enable them to cool.

Step Two: 2 hrs to 70°F

According to HACCP, from the time you remove your food items from the heat, girlfriend only have two hrs to pre-cool them come 70°F. Reducing part size, and also increasing surface ar area will certainly help you get there with plenty the time come spare.


Resist the urge to relocate your food items into cold storage until they’ve dropped to 70°F. Pre-cooling very first (before placing in the cooler) will avoid your refrigerator from warming, possibly spoiling every little thing else.

Step Three: 4 hours to 41°F

With your food items currently at 70°F, it’s time to move it into the fridge. Continue holding the food on the tray, to keep surface area, and also place that on its very own shelf to maximize air flow. Putting warm food on a shelf surrounding by other items may block waiting flow, which will prolong the cooling procedure even further.

During this step you have four hours to minimize your food’s temperature to 41°F. When at 41°F the food will be out of the danger zone and safe from multiplying bacteria. It’s crucial to keep in mind that holding food in ~ 41°F and below won’t kill the bacteria present, it will just slow under (or stop) their growth.

Cold Holding

At 41°F you can start assembling her ingredients. As soon as combined, store it in the fridge, and also hold until you’re all set to eat. To ensure your fridge is doing its job, the FDA recommends setting it come 40°F or listed below to ward off possibly hazardous bacteria. A hanging fridge thermometer (like the RT615) is the ideal tool to save tabs on her fridge’s ambient temperature. If you’re pack up for a potluck, or picnic, take one-of-a-kind precautions to save your food cold and serve shortly after removing it from the cooler.

During service, cold foods items should it is in held between 33°F and 41°F, for no longer than 12 come 24 hours, depending upon the food item. Where PHFs are involved the FDA recommends consuming them as quickly as possible; prepared foodstuffs tend to quickly lose top quality over time.

In transit, monitor her cold food items v a battery it is provided digital alert thermometer prefer the RT801. Insert the probe right into your cooler, or food items and collection the alarm come sound once you’ve breached the temperature danger zone (above 41°F). With the RT801 you can continue to monitor the internal temperature the the food items on the business table come ensure that being organized at a safe temperature.

In an outdoor setting it’s essential to store your food covered. This will assist maintain that is temperature, and also minimize physical contamination. However, if you uncover that her temperatures room creeping up into the peril zone nothing fret. Over there is a *two hour home window wherein food is safe for consumption prior to bacteria really ramps up production and also starts multiplying to levels that can injury you. Eat fast, and also discard after *two hours.

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In the off opportunity you’re serving heat potato salad, be conscious that once the warmth potatoes and eggs are included to the other ingredients you’ll only have actually a two hour home window to consume the batch before it need to be discarded. Take it this into consideration if you’re traveling.