I recently purchased a chocolate melter from TCF sales. I am currently using Mercken's compound melts in this melter.
We are extremely happy with the increased productivity, but our health inspector expressed concern at the contents sitting at 100 degrees being in the "danger zone". I always understood this to apply to raw or cooked temperature sensitive foods (meats, eggs, etc). I always understood chocolate and compounds were not TSF (temperature sensitive food) by point of food safety. I have never seen chocolate or compounds to be a concern for bacterial growth as long as the product is not contaminated by another substance.
When we use this melter, a sanitized dipper is used to scoop compound out. The compoud is NEVER introduced back to the melter once it has been used, and only sanitized utensils over touch the melted chocolate. It is completely cleaned every-other day by washing the containers and replacing with fresh compound.
My concern is that my inspector is not familiar with confectionery as opposed to restaurant food safety requirements. We don't use food borne illness prone meats and other bacteria-prone agents. Unfortunately, I cannot find ANY documentation -- not even from ADM Cocoa (the maker of Mercken's) -- that will explicitly state that compound is not conducive to bacterial growth at 100 degrees consistent melted temperature; nor anything stating the contrary.
Does anyone happen to have expertise in this area that could help me locate any sort of back up that says what I'm doing is the right way? I know they wouldn't be able to sell these melters for commercial use if it were really true that storing chocolate or compound at 100 degrees for 4+ hours causes bacteria and food borne illness! I need something in writing though :-( Any direction would be wonderful!
Man, I really feel bad that you're having this tough of a time with your inspector! I've had exactly the opposite experience with the Health and Ag departments here where I'm at. They've both been as helpful as possible in helping us get set up in the co-op kitchen we started in, and also in the planning of the kitchen we're putting into our church where we'll have more room and storage space and less overhead. Their attitude is that the more licensed commercial kitchens in the area the better, and they'll work with you as much as they can to help you accomplish your goals!
I hope you figure out a solution to the problem you're having with your inspector there. Maybe complain to his\her boss? Maybe collude with the State Health Dept. to organize a committee to publish a clear and concise set of requirements and rules? If you don't get satisfaction at the level you've brought your complaint to, there's almost always a way to escalate the situation to provide a solution.
Thanks, Thomas. I like your idea of a collaborative effort. I'm not really big on the idea of starting a war with my inspector. I realize she is trying to do her job, and I know that if there were a public health problem, she would be held accountable. I just wish there were more collaboration and effort on their part to help me. Every time I ask a simple question about how to be compliant I can't get a straight answer. I think part of it is that our county recently underwent a change from having all city inspectors to being goverened at the county level. So, unfortunately, there were some job losses. I'm sure this adds a lot of pressure. I think your suggestion of working with the state is really a great idea. Thanks!