Correcting a Repeat Priority Cooling Violation

Improper cooling of hot food by restaurants is a significant cause of foodborne illness. The Center for Disease stated that in the United States between 1998 and 2008, improper cooling practices contributed to 504 outbreaks associated with restaurants or delis.

These are some typical situations where errors occur in cooling properly before storing. You have responses such as it ‘felt cold’ or ‘I rinsed the pasta with cold water and tossed in ice’ or maybe it was the end of the night and everyone was leaving so it was stored regardless of the temperature.

One facility I inspect did a lot of cooking and cooling. On two consecutive semi-annual inspections and again at the recheck for proper cooling, they were not in compliance. This facility was perplexed and asked for help. They were given cooling logs and required to fill them out for every single item that they cooked and cooled. This is a very nuts and bolts way to see where the glitches were and correct them.

Below is proper ice bath cooling. The ice and water are at equal heights for effective cooling. They also have a ladle in one pot for stirring the hot product.


This is their cooling log. You can track how well their methods were now working.


Ice wands are added for a faster cool down and are very effective with thicker sauces or stews.


The last line item shows a product that did not reach 70F with-in the allotted two hours. You can see that there was corrective action - ‘reheat’. When a product does not reach 70 with-in the two-hour time frame, an approved correction is to reheat to 165F for 15 seconds or more and start the reheating process again.

At the second reinspection, all stored cooked and cooled foods were 41F or less and the cooling logs in order. Although it was no longer required for them to fill out the log for each item, the chef found it an excellent food safety practice and plans on continuing this as a requirement for all cooling in this facility.

Please contact me for a cooling log or check online and you can download one.

Proper cooling handout

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