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Potentially Hazardous Food by definition is a term used by food safety organizations to classify products that require time-temperature control to keep them safe for human consumption. A PHF is a food that: Contains moisture—usually regarded as a water activity greater than 0.85. Contains protein.
The Pierce County Health Department provided the health inspection reports for Pierce College’s cafeteria Lancer, the data retrieved shows that while Lancer is meeting quality standards of Pierce County food regulations, there have been issues in regards to PHF not maintaining the proper holding temperature.
The first inspection provided in the report took place on Oct. 31, 2012, at 9:50 a.m. Lancer was cited because the proper cold holding temperatures for PHF were not incompliance with safety regulations, or 41 degrees F, the safe zone for PHF. The comments on the official inspection observed that sliced roast beef was sitting at 48 degrees F, sliced turkey was sitting at 47 degrees F and sour cream was sitting at 45 degrees F in the top portion of the sandwich cooler. The inspector added that all malfunctioning refrigeration must be replaced or repaired.
The second inspection took place on May 28, 2013 for a catering service at Pierce College. All aspects of the catering met standard requirements for the Pierce County Health Department; however, when the inspection was taken down to the cafeteria at 3 p.m. Lancer was again cited for having food above the proper holding temperature for PHF.
The inspector’s notes mentioned to a cut melon sitting at 50 degrees F and yogurt at 51 degrees F. The inspector commented that those working said that the cooler in the kitchen was having problems where it would defrost on its own, so the workers would take the food out at night. The inspector noted not to place PHF in a malfunctioning refrigerator unit. During the third inspection of the cafeteria taken on Oct. 23, 2013, at 9:40 a.m. Lancer was cited a third time for PHF being above the proper holding temperature. The inspector observed cut tomatoes sitting at 44 degrees F and liquid eggs at 43 degrees F. The unit’s air temperature was at 52 degrees F and all PHF were relocated.
At 11 a.m. on Feb. 4, 2014, the cafeteria had a fourth routine inspection and was cited for PHF being above the proper holding temperature for food. The inspector noted that cut tomatoes were sitting at 47 degrees F, cut lettuce was sitting at 46 degrees F, liquid eggs were sitting at 45 degrees F, roast beef was sitting at 49 degrees F, turkey was sitting at 44 degrees F and ham was sitting at 49 degrees F. The inspector also observed that insulated container: half and half was sitting on the counter at 44 degrees F. The cafeteria staff said that each time the half and half runs out that they are supposed to get out a new container from the cooler.
The same day, catering was also inspected and was found to have all aspects in compliance.
On June 6, 2014, at 12:48 p.m. the cafeteria was inspected with the holding temperature for PHF not meeting standard requirements for PHF. The inspector noted that cut melons were sitting at 46 degrees F, hard boiled eggs were sitting at 44 degrees F and that the food at been in the cooler for less than 12 hours.
The most recent inspection of the cafeteria was on July 18, 2014 at 12:10 p.m. Lancer was cited for PHF not meeting regulations for proper holding temperatures. The inspector reported hard-boiled eggs sitting at 48 degrees F, yogurt sitting at 43 degrees F and cut melons sitting at 50 degrees.
As shown in the inspector’s reports, Lancer’s greatest struggle has been with keeping PHF at the proper holding level. Lancer, however, does not turn a blind eye to these reports.
“Occasionally the ambient air combats our efforts to maintain an acceptable temperature in low volume times,” said Susan Smith Pacific Northwest Regional Director of Lancer. “Monitoring the temperature of the foods we serve is an on-going procedure for our culinary staff.”
Whenever the temperature drops below safe temperature Lancer pinpoints the temperature and takes corrective action to ensure their products maintain a safe temperature. When Lancer receives concerns from health inspections, they take matters seriously to ensure the action is not repeated.
“There is no greater matter of attention than the safety of the food we serve,” Smith said. “When a violation does occur, our first priority is to take any corrective action necessary to address the specific violation. Our next priority is to engage the entire culinary team in a discussion surrounding what steps we can take to ensure such a violation is not repeated. Our goal is to foster a collaborative environment in which every member of the culinary team is invested in the operation and takes ownership of their role in safeguarding public health and best practices.”
Smith states that all violations, however small they may be, are a concern to Lancer as they work to be the best food service to Pierce students.
“Our goal is to serve wholesome and well prepared food that nourishes our guests and employees. The cornerstone of this goal is food that is received, handled, prepared and served with great care.”
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