Explanation of proper cooling of food

Release time:2023-10-27 Number of views: 131

Most people are aware of food safety issues with dishes that are not cooked properly, but rarely think about food that is not cooled properly. Between 1998 and 2008, the FDA identified more than 500 bacteria-related outbreaks in U.S. restaurants and delis, all due to improper cooling techniques. So what's the best alternative to safely cooling your food? We'll guide you through the best ways to cool your food so you can keep your customers healthy and avoid violating health regulations.

Dangerous areas when cooling food

Not all food in the restaurant is made to order. Usually, the chef will prepare the recipe in advance and store it in a cold storage. It can then be reheated before serving to save time and effort in the kitchen. The problem is that if food is not properly cooled before storage, bacteria can grow and make guests sick when heated and served.


Bacteria and microbes multiply rapidly between 135 and 41 degrees Fahrenheit and thrive between 125 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is called the danger zone and is the cause of most foodborne illnesses. It is for this reason that food should be properly cooled and monitored through a two-stage cooling process. Moist, protein-rich foods such as meat, cooked rice, cooked beans, cooked pasta, grays, soups, stews, and sauces can easily accelerate the growth of bacteria.

Secondary cooling of food

According to FDA regulations and the CDC's Food Cooling guidelines, food should be cooled in two stages to ensure it is safe to eat. Here's the two-stage cooling process you should follow in your kitchen:


Food must be cooled from 135 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit (57 degrees Celsius to 21 degrees Celsius) within 2 hours.

The food must then be cooled from 70 degrees Fahrenheit to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius to 5 degrees Celsius) in four hours.

The chilled food must reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit within the first two hours, otherwise it must be reheated immediately to 165 degrees for 15 seconds. The cooling process can then begin again until the temperature drops to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If the food is not monitored and the cooling process is not followed, it should be discarded.

Which method of cooling food should you not use?

While it may seem counterintuitive, hot food cannot be put directly into the refrigerator or freezer to cool because it will not pass through the cooling stage quickly enough to avoid dangerous areas. After placing hot food in the refrigerator, the food may grow bacteria that can cause illness and food poisoning. Hot food can also raise the ambient temperature in the refrigerator or freezer, which can jeopardize the integrity of other foods stored.

The proper way to cool food

Practice the two-step cooling process in a restaurant kitchen using an FDA-approved food cooling method. You can use the following tips to cool hot food:


  1. Ice cubes

If possible, add ice cubes to the food you want to cool. This works best for soups and gravies that contain water in the recipe. They can then be re-thickened during reheating. Separate food into shallow dishes to speed up the cooling process. Be sure to stir regularly and monitor the temperature.


  1. Ice bath

For recipes that require adding ice cubes to dilute, use an ice water bath to cool the food from the outside in. To use an ice bath to cool food, follow these steps:


Fill a sink or food storage box with ice and a little water.

Place the pan with the hot food in the ice so that the ice is above the height of the food in the pan, but not completely submerged.

Move the pan around every few minutes, adding more ice if needed.

Monitor the temperature of the food to ensure that it drops in accordance with the requirements of the two-step cooling process.


  1. Ice paddle

Use ice paddles to cool the food internally without diluting the final product. Insert cooling paddles into foods such as soups, sauces, vegetables, rice, and beans to quickly and safely lower the temperature. Use an ice paddle to cool your food as follows:


Fill the cooling paddle with water and freeze it overnight. If you need to use it the same day, fill the paddle with ice and cold water.

Put the cooling paddle into the hot food and stir it every 3-5 minutes so that the food reaches 70 degrees in 2 hours. Monitor the temperature of food using a probe thermometer.

Put the food in the refrigerator with the paddle still submerged in the refrigerator and check the temperature every 20 minutes as it will drop to 41 degrees in the next 4 hours.

Remove the OARS when the food reaches a safe cooling temperature.


  1. Quick freezer

If you have enough space, a commercial freezer can be a quick and effective tool for cooling food and taking it out of the danger zone. Quick-chillers or quick-chillers blow forced cold air into food to quickly reduce the temperature while minimizing ice crystals that form during cooling. This cools the food safely, extends its shelf life, and ensures a delicious product when the food is reheated. Use a quick freezer to cool food:


Divide food into platters (about 4 inches deep) to cool evenly and quickly. Check the Quick chiller's manual to see which disks are compatible with your equipment.

Follow the Settings to start your device. As air is blown through the chamber to safely cool the food, the chamber temperature will begin to gradually drop.

Once the food reaches a safe temperature, place it in the freezer.

Train staff to monitor the cooling process

To ensure that your kitchen is performing proper food cooling procedures, you must train your staff to monitor the process. They should know the following:


How to calibrate a thermometer

When to check food temperature

How to check the temperature of food

How to record temperature

Familiar with 2 stage cooling method

How do you adjust the cooling process to get food out of the danger zone

If your employees understand the importance of proper food cooling practices, they can help ensure the safety of your customers.

Food temperature cooling log

In order for your staff to track the temperature of your food during cooling, create a food temperature cooling log with columns with the following details:


Name of staff member


Food item

Start time and temperature

The time the food reaches 135 degrees Fahrenheit (the beginning of the danger zone)

The cooling method used

Food temperature per hour for the next six hours

After the cooling is complete, you can ask the manager to sign. Cooling log is a great tool to help you avoid health regulations violations and disease outbreaks.

Next chapter: