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Guide Food safety tips for businesses

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2. Cooking

Thorough cooking is very important because it kills harmful bacteria in food. If bacteria survive in food because it isn't cooked properly, it could make your customers ill.

What you need to do:

  • Don’t serve any food that isn’t properly cooked.
  • Once food is cooked, serve it immediately or keep it hot until serving.
  • If you’re cooking food in advance, cool and chill it quickly.

How to check:

  • Inspect food to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked. For example, check that it’s piping hot all the way through (at least 75 degrees) and that meat juices run clear.
  • Check regularly that hot food is kept hot until serving.
  • Remember, hot food must be kept above 63°C (145°F).

When you’re serving or displaying hot food, you can keep it below 63°C for a maximum of two hours. You can only do this once. Then you must throw away the food, or cool it as quickly as possible and keep it chilled until it’s used.

Cooking food:

  • Cook food thoroughly to kill harmful bacteria.
  • Don't shorten cooking times given on package labels or in cookery books.
  • Thaw frozen meat and poultry thoroughly or it may not cook completely. The best way to defrost food is in the fridge for sufficient time or by microwaving if you have to do it quickly.
  • Think very carefully about making recipes that include eggs which won't be cooked, such as mayonnaise. Raw eggs sometimes contain food poisoning bacteria only killed by thorough cooking, so what are you going to do to make sure these bacteria aren't in the food?
  • Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  • Cooked food should be reheated until it is piping hot.
  • Never reheat food more than once.