Keep Food Safe: Either Hot or Cold
Keeping prepared foods at proper temperatures during preparation and service is an important step in food safety. Its as simple as this - keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
Foods which have been completely cooked and are to be served hot should be held at 140 degrees or above. This can be achieved on the stove or in a hot plate or chafing dish. Temperatures should be monitored with an accurate cooking thermometer. If temperatures drop below 140 degrees, quickly reheat to 165 degrees, but you may only reheat one time safely.
Foods to be served cold should be held at 40 degrees. This can be achieved by placing the serving dish in a larger dish filled with ice. The food being served should be thoroughly chilled ahead of time. If possible, keep these types of dishes in an ice chest for added insulation.
Small amounts of foods should be placed on the serving line and replenished often to help maintain proper temperatures. This allows you to keep the bulk of the foods at safe and proper temperatures.
New food serving products on the market have heat packs which can be heated in the microwave and ice packs which can be frozen. These products can be helpful in maintaining safe serving temperatures, but temperatures should always be verified with an accurate cooking thermometer.