High Risk cooked and prepared foods need special handling to prevent the growth of microbiological contaminants. Food Business Operators have to maintain the right temperature for storing or heating. They have to also ensure that food is consumed within the specific time as mentioned in the FSSAI guidelines. Bacteria multiply very fast in food that is moist and which has the right acidity level for growth. To prevent the growth of bacteria all small and big food business establishments must remember the special precautions needed for foods with gravy. Special precautions have to be taken for high risk foods prepared in large quantities or prepared in advance such as for meetings, large social events, outdoor events or weddings.
- Do not store food with gravy at room temperature for more than two hours during display or sale. Bacteria can easily double their numbers every 10 to 20 minutes.
- Foods with gravy that need to be stored for longer periods should either be kept in
a) Refrigerators at 5°C or lower
b) Hot Holding at 60°C or higher
- The hot holding equipment such as a slow cooker, Bain-marie or hot holding cart should not be used for cooking or reheating
- Food products with gravy have to be reheated up to 70°C
- No water should be added to gravy food after it has been cooked, reheated or boiled
Sometimes food needs to be garnished and so there is post cooked mixing but remember that ingredients and garnishing that are added to cooked food must be thoroughly washed and cleaned to prevent any cross contamination from handlers, water or kitchen surfaces.
- Use only potable water for washing and clean thoroughly
- Add ingredients only once food is ready to be served and serve food immediately if garnishing has been added to cooked food.
- Prepare garnishing only from fresh, thoroughly washed and freshly cut vegetables
Special requirements for fried foods
FSSAI has set special guidelines for fried foods as oil that is not of the proper grade can degrade very fast. Using degraded quality of oil is a serious food safety hazard, so only good grade oil should be used and the oil sold in open form is strictly prohibited under the regulations. The repeated use of edible oil for frying can cause health problems as the concentration of toxic chemicals become worse. Food business establishments must remember
- To use proper quality branded oils/fats for food preparation as well as for frying
- Use only packaged oil
- Avoid the use of oils with high trans fats
- Avoid preheating and re-use of oil for food preparations especially in foods with gravy
- Avoid having left over oil as far as possible
- Use separate deep fryer utensils for potatoes and those for meats, chicken and fish
Re-use of cooking oil should be avoided and in case of reuse of cooking oil then it should not be used more than three times to avoid formation of trans fats.