GREENSBORO, NC -- I like my water at room temperature and my fruit too. But some uncooked food items - if left at room temperature - are potentially hazardous. Here's two hints. You have them at every picnic, and they stay on the table for hours.
Keith Gardiner with GTCC's Culinary Technology Department says lettuce and tomatoes and garlic, especially tomatoes, start to break down. Whole vegetables keep better.
Keith says, "Garlic has a very low pH so it's very susceptibility to bacteria growth especially when you put the garlic in oil. It actually creates an anaerobic environment where botulism can grow. So unprocessed garlic in oil shouldn't be left at room temperature, even at home."
A lot of times restaurants will have a station that's refrigerated where bins filled with cut food items fit right in, and cooks can easily reach in and grab what they need. Or chefs will have containers on ice and only bring out what they can use in a short period of time.
The new code says no cut food items, even things like veggies, should left at room temperature for more than four hours.
Restaurants can lose up to three points for not keeping potentially hazardous food cool enough.