Don’t Forget To Date Mark Your Frozen Prepared TCS Foods!

For quite some time, we have emphasized the importance of date marking ready-to-eat TCS* foods that are being held more than 24-hours after preparation in order to minimize the possibility for the growth of Listeria–a pathogenic bacteria that is capable of growing at refrigerated temperatures.   [The maximum hold time for these date marked foods can be no longer than 7 days from the preparation date of the oldest prepared TCS food used as an ingredient.]  This same requirement also applies to the opening of commercially prepared TCS foods, which can’t be consumed beyond their expiration date or a 7 day hold time—whichever comes first.  One often overlooked scenario is the proper date marking of prepared foods that are frozen for later use.  Freezing food may stop the growth of Listeria, but that’s not enough to kill it!

Freezing prepared TCS foods will stop the 7 day clock: however, the initial preparation and holding of the food has to be taken into account.  The table shown above gives an example of how such date marking should be implemented.  In this case, chicken was cooked and cooled, the morning of Day One and is date marked with the Date Prepared/Opened (October 1).   After being refrigerated for 2 days, it was then placed in the freezer the morning of Day Three and marked with that date as the Date Frozen (October 3).  The day that the prepared TCS food was removed from the freezer to thaw  is noted as the Pull Date (October 10) and the clock starts ticking again.

The time the prepared TCS food was held before freezing at 41°F or less (in this case two days, October 1 and 2) is subtracted from the 7 day total, which allows us to determine the Discard Date.  In this example, the Day Seven discard date marked is October 14.  Thus, the chicken must be consumed or discarded by the end of the day on October 14.

Click here for a date marking label template that can be used for tracking TCS food that is frozen after preparation. 

*Time and temperature control for safety



We often speak to food service operators about having effective plans in place for responding to events involving vomit and/or diarrhea in their establishments.  We were recently reminded by the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Environmental Health Office of the current code requirements in this  area:  

“Chapter 511-6-1 requires operators to have procedures in place for responding to vomiting/diarrheal accidents [511-6-1-.03(6)] in the food service establishment and IF PRESENT playground equipment and associated areas, there needs to be a plan in place for operators to follow when responding to vomiting and diarrheal events there as well [511-6-1-.07(5)(b)3].”  

Please don’t forget that if establishments have playground equipment, there should be an approved plan for responding to such events if they occur there as well.  The disinfectants used for such purposes are to be effective against Norovirus.  Chlorine is a disinfectant that is approved to be used in response to an event, however, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of others approved for use in response plans.  Click this link for an EPA list of effective disinfectants or go to the EPA’s website for more information.  Also, click here for an example of a response plan provided by the Centers for Disease Control.





Dirty Hands Can Be Scary!!!

Sometimes the scariest monsters are the ones you can’t see! Disease causing microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, may be lurking on your hands or the hands of others, but all you need is twenty seconds worth soap, water, and friction to stop these microscopic monsters in their tracks!

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health, in conjunction with the City of St. Louis Health Department have created a seasonal campaign to remind people that “Dirty Hands Can Be Scary“.  Please take some time to check out the campaign’s website to learn how a little more frequent (and thorough) hand washing can go a long way toward keeping you and your family healthier and happier.

Direct website link: