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Processing food safely

If you're a food business that processes food, it's important to use correct techniques so the food stays safe to eat.

What are the requirements?

Under Standard 3.2.2 - Food Safety Practices and General Requirements, food businesses must transport food in a way that keeps it safe and suitable.

This means the food is protected from contamination, processed using known safe techniques and kept at a safe temperature.

Reduce your risk

Start with safe food

  • Before you process food, make sure it is safe and suitable (e.g. ingredients from reliable suppliers, safely stored, inspected). 

Prevent food contamination 

  • Make sure food handlers know how to correctly use processing equipment and maintain good hygiene. 
  • Keep food processing areas clean. 
  • Clean and sanitise food contact surfaces before use (e.g. chopping boards, cutting and mixing blades, probe thermometers). 
  • Use separate equipment or areas for preparing raw and ready-to-eat foods, or clean thoroughly between uses. 

Use processing steps known to achieve food safety 

  • Know the critical limits for temperature, time, pH and water activity used for your food processing steps. 
  • When cooking or pasteurising, ensure the time and temperature makes food safe (e.g. cook chicken and mince to an internal temperature of ≥75°C). 
  • When using other processes such as acidification, fermentation and drying, make sure the food reaches the correct critical limit (e.g. pH ≤4.2 to prevent Salmonella growth). 

Keep food at safe temperatures 

  • For potentially hazardous food, keep it cold, keep it hot or make it quick. See next section. 

For potentially hazardous food: 

  • Minimise the time food spends in the temperature danger zone (between 5°C and 60°C). 
  • Keep track of this time to keep food safe: generally, it should not exceed 4 hours. 

Rapidly cool cooked foods:

  • within 2 hours, from 60°C to ≤21°C 
  • then within the next 4 hours, from 21°C to ≤5°C. 

Check food during cooling to be sure these times and temperatures are met. 

Tips for faster cooling

  • portion foods into shallow containers 
  • use rapid cooling equipment (e.g. blast chillers) 
  • frequently stir foods with cleaned and sanitised utensils 
  • use ice or iced water baths 
  • check cool air can circulate around food containers. 

Rapidly reheat cook-cooled foods

Reheat foods to ≥60°C as quickly as possible (e.g. by microwave or oven) before transferring to hot-holding equipment such as bain maries. 

Avoid repeated heating and cooling, to reduce the time food is in the danger zone.                                

Need more information?

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Page last updated 6 December 2023