Restaurant Characteristics Associated With the Use of Specific Food-Cooling Methods


Pathogen growth caused by improper or slow cooling of hot foods was a contributing factor in 504 of restaurant- and deli-related outbreaks in the U.S. from 1998–2008. Little is known, however, about restaurant cooling practices. To fill this gap, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Environmental Health Specialists Network (EHS-Net) conducted an observational study to identify and understand factors that might determine which methods restaurants follow to rapidly cool food. These methods include refrigerating food at ≤41 °F, at shallow depths, and in containers that are ventilated, unstacked, and have space around them. EHS-Net personnel collected data through manager interviews and observation of cooling processes in 420 randomly selected restaurants. Regression analyses revealed characteristics of restaurants most likely to use the cooling methods assessed. These characteristics included ownership by restaurant chains, manager food safety training and certification, few foods cooled at a time, many meals served daily, and a high ratio of workers to managers. These findings suggest that regulatory food safety programs and the retail industry might improve cooling methods—and reduce outbreaks—by providing and encouraging manager food safety training and certification, and by focusing intervention efforts on independent and smaller restaurants.


Speaker / Author: 
Kirsten Reed, MPH, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Laura Brown, PhD, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Danny Ripley, Metro Nashville/Davidson County Public Health Department
Nicole Hedeen, MPH, Minnesota Department of Health
David Nicholas, MPH, New York State Department of Health
Brenda Faw, California Department of Public Health
Lisa Bushnell, Connecticut Department of Public Health
Priya Nair, Georgia Department of Public Health
Timothy Wickam, Iowa Department of Public Health
Month Year: 
June 2020
Page #: 
Publication Month: 
June 2020
EH Topics: