Walk in Cooler Shelf Loading Theory
You have in your hand an insert of sliced pork chops, and carrry it to your walk in cooler to keep it cool until you need to cook it. There are several places where it could be placed. Do you place this insert in the most convenient place available, or do you reason where it is placed?
There is a reason for putting this insert in the proper place. It is known as Shelf Loading Theory for Walk in Coolers.
When an item is packaged, it does not matter how well it looks like it is packaged. You MUST assume that it is possible for something to poke a hole in it and for the juices of that product to drip on the product below it.
First, you place those whings which will not require cooking on the top, such as salads. Below that, top to bottom place the things in the order in accordance with their cooking temperature. If you have a pan of hamburger meat and a pan of chicken, the chicken would go below the hamburger meat because the proper cooking temperature for the hamburger meat is 155 degrees, and the proper cooking temperature for the chicken is 165 degrees. If the juiced of the hamburger meat drips on the chicken, any pathogens that are usually associated with hamburger meat, like e-coli, will be destroyed when the chicken is cooked. If the chicken was placed on top of the hamburger meat, and the chicken dripped on the hamburger meat, the usual pathogens of chicken, salmonela, would not be destroyed when the hamburger meat was cooked. You just risked a food borne disease outbreak.
So, keep the cooking temperatures in mind when storing things in your walk in cooler. And remember, health department officials are familiar with this theory also.
Here is an interresting question. If meat is in one piece, it only needs cooked to 145 degrees. If it is comminuted, or ground up, it must be cooked to 155. Why?
I don’t fully understand this, but I am told that if e-coli is present, it will be on the outside of a piece of meat, yah, go figure. So 145. If you grind it up, the e-coli, if present will be uniformly mixed throughout the meat, which requires a higher temperature to try to kill those little buggers.
Article by Gene Cox, Texas Best Food Services Training.