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My family & I recently went out to a teppanyaki restaurant. The food was great and we had no issues with food poisoning, but it got me wondering about their food safety.

The chef cooked everything (seafood, vegetables, fried rice, and chicken) on a large griddle. During the cooking, the chef pull a knife out of a holder on his belt, and chopped the various ingredients in place, on the griddle. He did this numerous times, including with the chicken he was grilling. It seems like he chopped partially cooked chicken (still very pink - looked mostly raw to me) and then used the same knife to chop other ingredients. How is that not a food safety concern?

To be fair, we have eaten at the same restaurant many times, it has passed inspection by the county environmental health office (and the certificate was posted, as required).

How can a chef use a knife to cut (mostly) raw chicken on a hot griddle, then turn around and use the same knife to cut other ingredients, without contaminating them?

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    It sounds like everything that gets cut with that knife is getting cooked?
    – Cascabel
    Feb 2, 2017 at 22:13
  • Yes, everything was being cooked during and after the chopping. I didn't really make a note of how long things were cooked after cutting.
    – Kryten
    Feb 3, 2017 at 14:16
  • My uncle's complaint is that you don't see them take the vein out of the shrimp. I don't remember there being a full shell on them, so it's possible that it was done in advance, I guess.
    – Joe
    Feb 3, 2017 at 18:16

1 Answer 1

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Food safety is primarily related to the environments that bacteria live in, thrive in, and are killed in. Temperature and time at that temperature will determine if a bacteria is able to survive. For example, if chicken, or other food items that come in contact with raw chicken, reach an internal temperature of 162F or greater, all salmonella is instantly killed.

In the situation you mentioned, and as Cascabel mentioned in her comment, the rest of the food in question is being cooked on high heat so it will reach a high internal temperature as well to kill the bacteria, eliminating the food safety concern.

Another factor would be velocity. The (cold) food gets cooked immediately after getting cross-contaminated by the dirty knife. This means that potentially harmful bacteria do not have time to multiply.

The USDA has a nice document on the time/temperature required to kill certain bacteria and safely eat poultry products.

TIME-TEMPERATURE TABLES FOR COOKING READY-TO-EAT POULTRY PRODUCTS

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