The Impact of Cooling Rate on the Safety of Food Products as Affected by Food Containers
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© 2018 Institute of Food Technologists®. In recent decades, the demand for ready-to-eat (RTE) food items prepared by the food catering sector has increased together with the value of cook-serve, cook-chill, and cook-freeze food products. The technologies by which foods are cooked, chilled, refrigerated for storage, and reheated before serving are of prime importance to maintain safety. Packaging materials and food containers play an important role in influencing the cooling rate of RTE foods. Food items that are prepared using improper technologies and inappropriate packaging materials may be contaminated with foodborne pathogens. Numerous research studies have shown the impact of deficient cooling technologies on the survival and growth of foodborne pathogens, which may subsequently pose a threat to public health. The operating temperatures and cooling rates of the cooling techniques applied must be appropriate to inhibit the growth of pathogens. Food items must be stored outside the temperature danger zone, which is between 5 and 60 °C, in order to inhibit the growth of these pathogens. The cooling techniques used to prepare potentially hazardous foods, such as cooked meat, rice, and pasta, must be properly applied and controlled to ensure food safety. This paper critically reviews the effects of cooling and its relationship to food containers on the safety of RTE foods produced and sold through the food service industry.
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