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Describe how to properly cool potentially hazardous food.

Cooling can be accomplished by using one or more of the following seven methods based on the type of food being cooled:

  • Placing the food in shallow pans
  • Separating the food into smaller or thinner portions
  • Using rapid cooling equipment
  • Stirring the food in a container placed in an ice water bath
  • Using containers that facilitate heat transfer
  • Adding ice as an ingredient

Large food items, such as roasts, turkeys, and large containers of rice or refried beans, take longer to cool because of the mass and volume from which heat must be removed. By reducing the volume of the food in an individual container, the rate of cooling is dramatically increased and opportunity for pathogen growth is minimized. If the hot food container is tightly covered, the rate of heat transfer is reduced, i.e., the time required for cooling and the time that the food is exposed to optimal temperatures for bacterial multiplication or toxin production are increased.

Alternatives to conventional methods include avoiding the need to cool larger masses by preparing smaller batches closer to periods of service or chilling while stirring hot food in containers within an ice water bath. Commercial refrigeration equipment is designed to hold cold food temperatures, not to cool large masses of food. Rapid chilling equipment is designed to cool the food to acceptable temperatures quickly by using very low temperatures and high rates of air circulation.

When placed in cooling or cold holding equipment, food containers in which food is being cooled can be arranged in the equipment to provide maximum heat transfer through the container walls. The containers should be loosely covered, or uncovered. If uncovered, the container of food must be protected from overhead contamination.