Valerie Miller of the Las Vegas Business Press reports that Nevada Burger King restaurants may soon be allowed to reheat food at lower temperatures, despite concerns over past outbreaks of food-borne illnesses.
If approved, the fast-food chain will be able to reduce the reheating temperature for Burger King’s pre-cooked Chicken Whopper patties and Angus Burger patties from the state’s required 165 degrees to 140 degrees. The lower temperature still would meet minimum federal standards.
Federal food temperature standards were ushered in after the Jack in the Box restaurant E. coli scare in 1993, in Washington state. The deadly bacteria killed four customers who consumed undercooked beef patties, and media coverage of the outbreak nearly destroyed the fast food chain.
Restaurant food safety consultant and former CDC employee Frank Bryan, who runs Food Safety Consulting and Training near Atlanta, sees problems arising out of the lower-temperature scenario. Heating meats and poultry to 165 degrees kills bacteria in as little as three seconds. By contrast, food heated at 140 degrees must be maintained at that temperature for at least 12-15 minutes to destroy the bacteria – which may not work for fast-food restaurants.
The request has been placed on the state Board of Health’s consent agenda and its success could be a sign of bigger changes in Nevada’s food codes.
Another fast food chain, California-based Carl’s Jr., is not planning to follow in Burger King’s footsteps in Nevada.