A commonly overlooked step in safe food handling is improper thawing of frozen products. Here are some basic do’s and do not’s.
The best way is to take the food out a day or 2 before use, and allowing it to defrost by leaving it under refrigeration. This allows the safest and most even defrosting.
However, most restaurants do not have the space in their coolers, or an item they need was just pulled from the freezer or delivered that morning. The best option is to place the frozen item – still in the cryovac - into a prep sink, then using cold water only, allow the water to run over the product. The water should be turned high enough to circulate around the foods. Do not fill the sink and then shut off the water, or turn the faucet to a slow drip. Once the food is defrosted, take it out from the water, and cook or place under refrigeration.
Also – do not use hot water! This causes the outside of the food to be in the temperature danger zone, and depending on the food and how hot the water, that outside layer of the food almost starts to be cooked. The goal of proper defrosting is to prevent the food from entering the Temperature Danger Zone.
If your sink does not have an overflow drain or tube, place the frozen food into a pot or pan, then let the cold water run into that container.
Using a microwave is another option – but only as part of the cooking process. As microwaves heat foods unevenly, these foods must be cooked immediately. Some foods such as burger patties can be cooked from frozen, as the cooking is the defrosting.
Over the years, I have seen foods being defrosted under heat lamps, on the shelf over the stove, under the steam table or even placed in a food warmer. I set my staff straight about the food warmer the 1st day I started working there!!
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PETER B FOOD SAFETY AUDITS provides independent third-party audits of foodservice operations – from small to large restaurants, hotels, residences, supermarkets and multi-unit facilities, pre-opening and routine audits.
Having attended NYC Technical College for Hotel & Restaurant Management, and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park in 1986, my experience of 30+ years working as Chef and manager in hotels and restaurants in New York City, Oahu, and the Hawaiian Islands brings real world knowledge of how a kitchen should operate to provide safe food and follow regulations.