Updated: Apr 21, 2020
Every time you serve food at ambient temperature, you’re already causing danger to your health.
Always serve hot food hot and cold food cold. When you serve at ambient, you’re causing a danger. What is this Danger Zone Temperature? (DZT)
As depicted in the above picture, the DZT is the temperature range where there are higher chances of microbial growth which leads to foodborne illnesses. The above image clearly explains the stages of microbial growth and destruction.
For instance, when you thaw a frozen product like chicken or meat, we need to ensure a slow process of either thawing the product through cold running water (15 C for 90 minutes) or storing it at a chilled temperature overnight (5 C for 8–12 hours). The process is to ensure that the ice on the product slowly melts. Whereas if this process is done hastily by thawing the product in a still water at ambient temperature, you can visibly notice the colour change in the water as well as the odour which spreads throughout and spoiling the product quickly. The frozen product already will have a set of microbes present in them, which are constrained to movement. When exposed to chiller temperature, they melt and multiply.
Similarly, when exposed to ambient, they increase furthermore and tend to spoil quickly. You cannot refreeze the thawed product. This process of microbes multiplication is similar for others as well.
Another example is that any gravy or side dish which not served hot, but at ambient, can notice the change in its taste and flavour, also easily prone to get spoilt quickly. Hence, if you see in a buffet counter, the food is kept on a Bain-Marie at a minimum of 65 C for veg and a minimum of 70 C for non-veg.
The DZT is mainly for those products which have moisture and water content. If it is for any dry products like biscuits, powders, condiments, and spices, they spoil rapidly when we store them in the chiller, because they absorb water. These dry products have to save at dry and ambient temperatures only. Storing the dry products in the chiller, do not extends its shelf life; instead, they easily spoil quickly.
Here comes another twist. You cannot reheat a product more than twice. If you do so, you’re again treating the product to a curve of DZT Temperature. The below graphical representation depicts the process. Ensure the food is served right after its preparation to avoid such complications. The Reheating must be a minimum of 75 C. All the minimum temperatures mentioned, must reach the specified temperatures at the core part of the product.
Always ensure you are cooking at the Right temperature. Every vegetarian food has to reach a minimum of 65°C and every Non-Veg a minimum of 70°C. Keeping track of what we eat and at what Temperature we cook is always a step to prevent ourselves from foodborne illnesses/ food poisoning.