|Abstract or Summary
- Effects of four handling methods with varying holding times and
temperatures on the acceptability and safety of two commercially
prepared frozen entrees, tuna and noodles and chicken al a king,
as used in a residence hall were studied. The four methods were:
I. oven heated and served at once; II. boiled-in-bag and served at
once; III. boiled-in-bag and held in a warming cabinet for a specified
period of time before serving; and IV. boiled-in-bag sample that
had been refrozen and then reheated and served at once. Three
replications of each of these four methods for each entree were included.
Acceptability of the products was determined by sensory evaluation
of appearance, texture, and flavor as rated by a panel of seven
untrained judges. Safety was determined by temperature readings
and by microbial examinations of the entrees. The examinations
included: total plate counts, keeping quality tests, and qualitative
tests for coliform and staphylococci taken at four different steps
for each method. Temperature readings were made also at those
The panel rated products prepared by method II the highest
of all methods. The mean scores on the five high to one low rating
scale were 4.2 for chicken a la king and 3.8 for tuna, and noodles
while the lowest ratings were 2.9 and 2.2 for the two products,
respectively. No sample was rated totally unacceptable. An analysis
of variance of panel scores showed that the three acceptability factors
were not significant in relation to the four heating methods for chicken
a la king. For tuna and noodles, however, panel preferences for
method II were significant for appearance, and texture at the one
percent level and for flavor at the five percent level.
All mean temperatures were outside the food holding danger
zone, 38°F to 140°F ..indicating all were safe for human consumption.
Mean temperature readings taken when the products were served
to the panel ranged from 143°F to 182°F for chicken and 147.3°F
to 179.6°F for tuna and noodles. The highest readings for both
products mere obtained from method II. The lowest readings for
chicken was from method I and from method IV for tuna and noodles.
Only one sample in the entire study, chicken a la king heated by
method I to 134.7°F, was in the danger zone when served to the panel.
Also, all samples were within the microbial safety limit of
100,000 organisms per gram when served to the panel. Mean plate
counts for the products when served to the panel were 303 and 2300
organisms per gram for chicken a la king and tuna and noodles
respectively and the highest mean counts for any of the samples were
15,000 for chicken and 11,700 for tuna. Samples boiled-in-bag and
served at once were the most acceptable to the panel and had the
lowest microbial counts of all the samples.
Continued holding and subsequent drops in temperature adversely
affected the degree of acceptability of the entrees. Those products
that were held the longest before serving showed the highest microbial
counts, indicating the need for care when using them.
On the basis of these findings, it is recommended that institutions
using commercially prepared frozen entrees heat them as close
to serving time as possible and that they be heated as needed throughout
the serving period to reduce the possibility of having leftovers.