Good answers, getlemen. Mostly correct, but the reason I put them there is because they are somewhat trick questions. I've been to so many health inspection seminars (I don't know why they keep inviting me - at the last one I was the only non-health inspector. Go figure!)
1. the case of the baked potato:
Yes it is not safe to leave baked potaoes at room temperature for extended periods of time. reason being: as we all know, baked potatoes are often scored with a knife before baking. This can cause a small amount of the skin to be pushed in below the surface. Like the garlic in the incident i described, potatoes, too, may be contaminated with Clostridium bacteria. If left in an anaerobic environment ie inside the potato where no oxygen can get at it, it may survive the baking process if it has not been cooked long enough. Later, when it is left at room temperature the bacteria can produce botulinum toxin. If the breakfast cook uses said potatoes, and does not cook them sufficiently, the toxin may remain active and cause a food borne illness. Botulinum toxin is not heat stable, and can be destroyed if properly heated. I wouldn't take that chance, however.
Chefedb, you are correct. The LEAST hazardous are the soda crackers due to the high pH of the soda, and the fact that the crackers are dry. Mold could still be a problem though. So, how about the rest?
cooked rice - a bacterium called bacillus cereus lives on cereal grains and other plants. It will sporulate (turn into a spore) when survival conditions are less than favorable (ie dry conditions), and will turn back into a viable bacterium, given the right circumstances. The spores can survive cooking temperatures, and if cooked rice (moist) is left in the danger zone (4C to 60C, 40 F to 140F), the bacteria can begin to multiply rapidely and cause a food borne illness.
the same applies to carrots as does to potatoes. It all depends on how they were cooked. if well done, in an acidic environment i. e. orange juice, there is not much to be feared, however one should always be cognizant of the fact that this danger exists. So, refrigerate all cooked foods, or keep them above 60C / 140F
Same issue as with rice. As long as they are kept dry, no danger exists, however once turned into oat meal, (or any other form involving moisture) the same applies as does to cooked rice (and cooked pasta, by the way!)
Yep, same thing. Bacillus cereus has been found in paprika, sesame seeds, dry thyme, chili powder, etc. Onion powder, garlic powder and curry pastes are also possible sources of both bacillus cereus as well as clostridia. Again, it's the introduction of moisture which is the problem. So, impress on your staff not to reach into a jar of spice with wet hands!
3. the smoked salmon
This one had me stumped, too. Apparently, according to the food safety gurus, smoked salmon in a vacuum can also be a favorable environment for clostridia. Think of it - anaerobic environment, mild, almost neutral pH, protein for food, ample moisture, given enough time at even refrigerator temps, still satisfies FAT TOM. A week is probably not enough at 4C or less, but three to four? I dunno.... However, the health inspectors do recommend that you break the vacuum once you thaw the product, or as soon as you receive it.
4. Fruit cups:
That old clostridium again! Melons, being mild fruit, resting on the ground when grown, can be contaminated with the bacteria from the skin. Leaving them at room temperature, sitting in their own juice - covered or not - may cause clostridia to grow and produce the botulinum toxin. To prevent this, either refrigerate the product or acidulate the environment by adding acidic fruit like citrus or pineapple. Sliced melons on a fruit platter are not dangerous, however, because oxygen can get at the fruit and the bacteria will not produce the toxin. This only happens if they metabolize in an atmosphere devoid of oxygen.
5. color coded cutting boards:
Okay, this one is probably worthy of its own thread! I just don't get the colors! I think it's much better to teach your staff to change cutting boards with each work process, no matter what. If you put your color coded cutting boards in the dish pit or the dish washer, you will cross-contaminate all other boards present, anyway. So, if your dishwasher (or pot sink) cannot properly sanitize whatever is in the machine (or sink) , you have bigger problems. Color coded cutting boards only encourage (inexperienced) cooks to hold onto soiled boards when in fact they should have changed them, thinking it was "safe" to do more than one work process on the same board. I'm sure many of you would disagree. I often pose this question, and I usually get rolling eyes...
Right on thetincook! Yes, believe it or not, good old household bleach is more effective and has a wider antiseptic spectrum than quats. Did you know quats are ineffective on e-coli?? The reason we are encouraged NOT to use bleach is exactly as thetincook said: it can eat away at aluminum and stainless steel, especially if used in hot water. Also, bleach loses its efficacy in the presence of excessive dirt, grease and mineral contamination. Quats are a little more forgiving in this respect. Quats are also less hazardous to handle. Bleach can be hard on the skin, dangerous to the eyes and mucous membranes, and can react with other commonly used cleaning chemicals to produce noxious fumes...
You cook a beautiful prime rib roast on Saturday night, however business is slower than expected. Three quarters of your roast is left over. You don't despair, however, because you will serve it again tomorrow night, carefully reheated, and still medium rare. Is that okay??