Safety and Sanitation: 5 Things To Know When Cooking Fried Foods

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever for foodservice operations like restaurants to ensure that they are following proper sanitation procedures and making their food in as clean of an environment as possible. That includes ensuring that the equipment used for frying foods is continuously sanitized and properly in line with sanitary and health standards.


The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services has put together a guide that helps steer the foodservice industry on how to ensure food safety when deep fat frying foods. Here are five things to focus on to ensure your fried foods are prepared as safely as possible.

1. Always Sanitize Before Meal Prep

Because deep fat frying involves using extremely hot oil to cook foods, it is a fast process and helps to kill any bacteria in the food — when done properly. The first step in properly frying is to prepare the fryer and food for use. As you do with any cooking method, you’ll want to make sure to thoroughly wash your hands and clean all surfaces before handling any food in order to avoid cross-contamination.

Make sure you are cleaning and sanitizing the fryer before it is used so that it is safe to use for the oil and the foods that you are frying. This especially includes sanitizing fryer basket handles, the part of the fryer most often touched by the kitchen staff.

All sanitizers and cleaning supplies you use must be food safe. You will also need to keep the food stored properly to avoid spoilage and potential food poisoning. Another key to remember is to never mix raw and cooked foods.

2. Monitor Internal Temperatures

When you deep fry, the oil is at a very high temperature, which can give you a false sense of security in terms of ensuring the food’s internal temperature meets the minimum standards. Here are the safe minimum cooking temperatures for some popular fried foods (in Fahrenheit):

  • Poultry: 165 degrees
  • Fish: 145 degrees
  • Shrimp, crab, and scallops: Cook until the flesh is pearly or white, and opaque

3. Keep an Eye on Oil Temperatures

To get to the minimum temperatures, you need to cook the foods in oil that is at a certain temperature for minimum periods of time, which are approximate and subject to variation under certain conditions. Because of that, it is recommended to always check the food’s internal temperature before serving, but the approximate cooking times for some commonly fried foods are:

4. Thoroughly Clean Up After Deep Frying

Once you’re done deep frying, make sure you thoroughly clean and sanitize the fryer once after you’ve allowed it to cool completely. Discard any oil that has become clouded or started to foam or have a foul taste or odor. Do not pour discarded oil down the sink. You can also recycle used cooking oil in some places.

5. Properly Store Leftovers

If you are not immediately using all of the food that you fried, make sure you store it properly. Leftover fried foods should be refrigerated within two hours, or within one hour if the air temperature is 90 degrees or above. If the fried food is left at room temperature for longer than that, bacteria can rapidly grow on it, making it unsafe to eat.

Here at Pitco, we’ve taken important steps to make sure our fryers are as safe to operate as possible. If you’d like to learn more about commercial kitchen fryers and how they can contribute to the overall health of your safety scores, schedule a free fryer consultation with us today.

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Topics: Safety, Fryers, Oil, Chicken