Tips on Making Safe Tea

Recently, health departments in Ohio and neighboring Kentucky issued an "ice tea alert" regarding the high degree of contamination they found in iced tea sampled for study in more than 20 fast food locations in their states.

According to Joe Simrany, pres. of NYC-based Tea Council of the U.S.A., there's "no great cause for alarm," since the unacceptably high levels of bacteria found caused no illness. Improper brewing techniques have been pinpointed as the culprit, and that must be addressed, he says.

"Given the nature of the high turnover of employees in fast food locations, it's not surprising. But it's incumbent upon us as an association to educate operators—no one wants to serve a product that's less than perfect."

Since iced tea is a widely-consumed beverage year 'round from coast to coast, the Tea Council has issued a fact sheet entitled, "Foodservice Beverage Protection and Sanitation Practices For Fresh-Brewed Iced Tea Equipment." Key points:

1. Brew only enough tea that you reasonably expect to sell within eight hours. Discard brewed tea remaining after this period.

2. Tea should be brewed using water as close to the boiling point as possible (212°F). Tea leaves should remain in contact with the water for a period of 6 to 10 mins.

3. To protect tea flavor and to avoid bacterial contamination and growth, CLEAN and SANITIZE tea brewing and storage equipment at least ONCE A DAY as follows:

4. Dismantle dispensing spigots, hoses, storage reservoirs (removing gaskets, "O" rings, etc.) and rinse in warm water along with other brewing and storage utensils (e.g., pitchers, spoons, etc.)

5. Wash using a good detergent, in hot water at 110°F-120°F. Be sure to remove any encrusted soil deposits with a brush or cleaning pad, if needed.

6. Rinse thoroughly with clear warm water.

7. Sanitize by immersing parts for at least 1 min. in hot water at 170°F or by immersing for at least 5 mins. in a sanitizing solution such as coffee urn cleaner or as recommended by the equipment manufacturer.

8. Replace any worn gaskets, "O" rings, or any badly scratched or damaged parts before reassembling.



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