A tool that managers use to maintain safe food in their operations is taking and recording of logs. There are a variety of logs that should be kept as a record of safe food handling, and help avoid surprises when inspected. The ones we will focus on are refrigeration, cold and hot holding, cooling, and sanitizer. Taking and maintaining records of these Critical Control Points (that should sound familiar!!) is a major way to help ensure safe food by identifying when those CCP’s are out of range. The manager should then make corrections to the procedures or call for repairs to equipment.
Refrigeration logs should be posted by each refrigeration unit, usually on a clipboard. The temps should be taken at least twice a day. Any cooler out of range – above 41 deg – needs to be checked out, and if necessary, have all foods removed until repairs are completed. As a side note – this is why all your refrigeration – walk-ins, reach-ins, line drawers… need to have an easily found thermometer. Thermometers pushed to the back or hanging in a way that is not visible can’t be read by your cooks or the inspector.
Hot and cold holding temps are logged for foods on hold on the cook line or on a buffet. When temps are taken, any item out of range can be corrected. They should be taken every 2 hours.
Cooling Procedures were discussed in my July column. Cooling logs are the manager’s way of having proper cooling documented.
Lastly – Sanitizing logs. So many restaurants I audit are running a dish machine that is not properly sanitizing – either with chemical or high temp. Frequently the supply bucket is empty, but no one is aware of it. Sanitizer buckets should be checked and recorded as well. These should be taken at least once a meal period.
A few pointers: If a group of coolers is together, create a log with a column for each on the same page to make recording easier.
Logs can be used as evidence to protect the restaurant in case of illness, so make sure they are accurate, up to date, and organized (usually in a binder) Going back to fill in missing days is called dry-labbing, and should not be acceptable in your facility. The numbers should not be the same. There will be slight variations from day to day. I actually worked with a guy who had copies of what needed to be temped in his drawer– he just wrote in the date!! Record falsification was a big reason he was fired.
Make sure more than one person does this, they know why they are doing it, what the CCPs are, and what to do to correct items out of the proper range. The more people that know the CCP’s, the better. There is a serious knowledge gap when only 1 person knows how to take temperatures. When this 1 person has a day off or is on vacation, logs are not kept! Bring your whole team on board!!! Have your cooks take turns doing the logs. Make sure your dishwashers do theirs.
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