Before or during your research for a Texas Food Handlers Permit, you may have wondered whether a food handler can taste food to adjust seasoning. Given that bacteria and germs being transferred from people to food is a risky business, it might seem like you can’t taste food to make sure it’s ready for service.
However, to ensure dishes are well-balanced and suitable for paying customers, there has to be a way to try it. So, can a food handler taste food to adjust seasoning? The answer is yes, but there are right and wrong ways to go about it.
Best Practices for Tasting Food
No rule says a chef or food service worker can’t taste their food as they are preparing it. However, any utensils you use must be used only once. Refrain from double-dipping.
Ask any chef, and they will tell you that many best practices are followed in commercial kitchens to ensure that tasting food is a simple, convenient process, but also a safe one. You might have a large set of tasting spoons at each station, with the spoon end stored in hot water with a sanitizer solution.
When tasting, you may like to take a spoon, tap off the excess water, and wipe it with a clean, dry towel if necessary. Once you have dipped it into the food and tasted it, you would then put the spoon into an area set aside for dirty dishes.
Once it comes time to clean the dishes, the spoons would be collected and washed using the same methods you would use to clean other dishes. They would be left to dry then returned to the line for tasting once more. Such a system, or one similar, would prevent contamination.
What About Experienced Cooks?
The more experienced a chef or cook is, particularly with certain dishes, the less often they need to taste their food. Often, they will only taste it to make sure the seasoning, such as salt and pepper, is well balanced. The less often they taste, the fewer spoons they will need to use, wash, and dry.
Are There Food Types You Can’t Taste During the Cooking Process?
While it makes sense to be able to taste all foods during the cooking process, some you will not be able to. Remember, some foods are high-risk and not safe for consumption until they have been thoroughly cooked. And you can guarantee that no paying customer wants a bite taken out of their steak before it’s delivered to their table.
Poultry, seafood, dairy, and most meats that have not yet reached their minimum internal temperature will not be safe to taste test. How you can know they are ready is by checking their temperature with a food thermometer. You can taste the other components of the dish, just not those that make up the central part of it.
Raw veal, lamb, beef, and pork steaks, chops, and roasts, should be cooked until they have a minimum internal temperature of 145°F. Ground pork, lamb, beef, and veal, should be cooked until their temperature is 160°F, while poultry should be cooked to 165°F.
Tasting Food Before It’s Cooked
What if you need to make sure stuffing, ground meat, or something similar is well balanced before you cook it? Easy! You simply need to cook a small amount of it as a taster first and adjust the main dish according to your findings. Repeat this process if necessary until you believe your herbs, spices, and seasoning are well-balanced.
Best Types of Spoons for Food Handler Taste Testing
It may surprise you to learn that the material of the spoon can impact what the food tastes like, according to studies. An investigation into the effects of metals on the perception of food determined that zinc and copper could enhance the dominance of cream. The pleasantness of the flavor was also affected.
However, gold and stainless-steel spoons did not. Therefore, given the popularity of stainless-steel cutlery in any commercial kitchen, the best tasting spoon for a food handler is stainless-steel.
Learn How to Taste Safely With A Food Handlers Certificate
Whether you’re already in the food industry or are just joining it, consider getting your food handlers permit in Texas sooner rather than later. With it, you can learn all about how to taste food safely, the temperature food must be at, and what to do with tasting utensils once you are finished with them.
TABC Pronto offers an online course to help you obtain your Texas food handlers permit. There is no final exam, and the TXDSHS-approved course is just $6.99. Enroll today!