Doing it right. Time as a Public Health Control (rather than temperature)
Updated: Oct 1, 2021
There are two ways to keep potentially hazardous foods (foods that require refrigeration) safe. The most common way is through temperature. Cold foods must be kept at 41F or less and hot foods at 135F or greater. The other way is using time, in this case, 4 hours. Time as a control is valuable when you have a busy service and need food warm and ready to go but not hot. For example, this is the most common way to hold hollandaise sauce because it will typically break, being held at 135F for an extended period of time. However, a potentially hazardous food (PHF) may be held without temperature control for a short time using time as a public health control (TPHC).
Vicente Ortiz and Chris Payne are masters at using time as a control for public health keeping their food and customers safe at Kingsland Kitchen in downtown PDX. Note the time stamp written on blue tap on the cooked items holding above the flattop behind them.
This is an excellent example of time stamping correctly. When food is removed from temperature control, the time is documented and the product 'time-stamped.' Once time is used as a control, food may not be later returned to use temperature as a control. It must be discarded. Therefore, foods may not be refrigerated, reheated, or placed in a warmer for later service.
A written procedure is required for foods that will use time, rather than temperature, to limit the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. The written procedure needs to be on-hand and available for both employees and inspectors.