It is vitally important that all ships cooks and catering teams understand the importance of minimum food temperatures and why these temperatures are so important. Catering crew should also understand the correct use of a food probe thermometer (Temperature Probe) and what is meant by the term: minimum safe core temperature?
It is important to recognise exactly what is meant by the term Core Temperature; it means the middle or centre of the food. It does not matter if it is a stew or and joint of meat, or piece of fish, the core is the innermost or thickest part, the very centre of the food. Food Temperature probes take the reading from the tip of the probe, so it is important that you gauge how far the probe should penetrate in order for the tip of the probe is in the very centre of the item being probed.
Why are minimum core temperatures important?
Minimum core temperatures are important because they represent a Critical Control Point, this is point in the cooking and heating process that is critical to ensure the food has been sufficiently heated to make it safe to consume.
Minimum Safe Core Food Temperatures are;-
Pork 80°C (always)
Chicken and Turkey 80°C (always )
Beef Well Done 80°C
Beef Rare 55°C
Fish & Seafood 75°C
Reheated Dishes 80°C (always)
The Food Temperature Probe should be sanitized both immediately before and immediately after use, and in-between probing different food items.
The reusing of cooked dishes must be carefully thought out and due diligence must be demonstrated in both the cooling, storage and the reheating process. Some foods do not reheat well and anything that looks unappetizing should not be used.
Culinary Considerations: Safe and Fit for Consumption
Cooking apart from being a practical requirement to make food palatable and safe to eat is also something of an art form, it can be creative and attractive and arouse the senses of taste, small and vision, and in the modern 21st century people are acutely aware of what is good when it comes to food, people are more educated and informed not just about food in general, but about quality of various foods and techniques and how foods should be cooked and served.
Some foods may benefit from being just cooked, meat and fish can be juicier and more succulent if cooked to just that perfect point where it retains all of its juices. However when cooking for large numbers of people with large volumes of food this can create the perfect environment for an increased risk of something being undercooked, and the increased risk of possible harm to people who consume undercooked food.
A multi-million dollar project could be brought to a standstill and people made ill or even die because a cook wanted to demonstrate his culinary skill?
It is a fact that some foods will be slightly compromised in terms of moisture or flavour by thorough cooking right to the core, but the need to make food safe must take priority over all other considerations. The number one rule when preparing food for people on-board your ship: it must be safe and fit for consumption.
Cooking food until the core temperature is 75°c or above will ensure that harmful bacteria are destroyed. However many professional catering operations state the desired target of 80°C to ensure there has been sufficient cooking to make the food safe.
The Danger Zone Thermometer
Critical Control Points
What is Cooking