Cooking food to the required minimum temperature is an absolute must to be able to eliminate any potentially dangerous bacteria. Additionally, monitoring those holding temperatures will help ensure that your foodservice business stays out of the danger zone.
Once foods have been cooked, maintaining the proper holding temperatures and tracking the amount of time spent at a given temperature will reduce the risks of bacterial growth and protect the health of your customers. Knowing the safe temperatures for each type of food cooked and served will help prevent food poisoning or other foodborne illnesses.
Are you monitoring safe food temperatures in your refrigerators, freezers, and food holding areas in order to prevent dangerous bacteria from impacting food safety?
Safe Temperatures for Food Handling
The danger zone for most types of food is between 41-140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hot and cold foods held in this range of temperatures can experience bacterial growth curves that rapidly make them unsafe to eat.
Cold foods need to be maintained at temperatures between 33-41 degrees Fahrenheit. Frozen foods need to be kept at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.
Hot foods must be cooked to a specific minimum temperature to reduce risks of bacteria and germs that can cause foodborne illnesses and food poisoning.
- Store foods in sealed glass or plastic containers to prevent cross-contamination
- Monitor storage temperatures in refrigerators and freezers constantly
- Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours of cooking
- Reheat food to an internal temperature of 165°F before serving
Hot Food Minimum Safe Temperatures
To determine whether food has been heated and cooked to the right temperature to eliminate all dangerous bacteria, always use a food thermometer for accuracy.
Let’s take a look at some of the perishable food cooking temperatures you should know1:
- 135 Degrees Fahrenheit: Cooked vegetables and fruits need to be at least this hot before serving.
- 145 Degrees Fahrenheit: Beef, veal, lamb, pork, bacon, ham, seafood, fish, and eggs you intend to serve right away need to reach this internal food temperature for proper food safety. The temperature must be maintained for a minimum of 15 seconds.
- 160 Degrees Fahrenheit: Chopped or ground beef or pork need to reach this temperature and maintain it for at least 15 seconds. Cooked eggs intended to be held for a short period of time must be cooked to this temperature.
- 165 Degrees Fahrenheit: All poultry products and cuts need to be cooked to at least this temperature for a minimum of 15 seconds. Reheated and microwave-cooked foods also need to reach this minimum temperature.
Safe Temperatures Vary Based on Time
There are some variations in cooking temperatures and times. For instance, with beef roasts, you have several different safe cooking temperature options:
- 130 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 121 minutes.
- 140 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 12 minutes.
- 145 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 3 minutes.
Cooked food must be allowed to rest for a few minutes after removing it from the oven, stove, or microwave oven. While food rests, it continues to cook, and the temperature will continue to increase.
As the temperature increases, it also continues to destroy any bacteria and germs. After resting, check the temperature of the hot food and verify it is at the minimum safe level. If not, continue cooking the food until it reaches the right temperature.
Hot Holding, Cold Holding, and Thawing Foods
When holding hot foods under a warming light or in steam trays, the minimum temperature to maintain is 135 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent the risks of bacterial growth. You should never keep hot held and cold held foods next to each other. The hot food will cool down, while the cold food will warm up. This could result in a rapid increase in the bacterial growth rate.
Cold foods must be kept below 41 degrees Fahrenheit and never allowed to reach room temperature for more than 2 hours. Hot foods that need to be chilled must be divided into shallow containers for rapid cooling to safe temperatures. If room temperature is warm (above 90°F), perishable foods must be refrigerated within 1 hour due to the rapid rate of bacterial growth.
Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator, submerged in cold water, or rapidly in the microwave. Food left sitting on the counter to thaw is at the ideal room temperature for bacteria to multiply as soon as the outer edges warm up, even if the center is still frozen.
Protecting Public Health and Your Business Bottom Line
Monitoring safe food temperatures at all points in the process will not only protect your customer from consuming contaminated food or feeling the symptoms of food poisoning, but it will also protect your investment in quality food products and your reputation for safe and delicious food products.
For more information on how to monitor food temperatures and receive real-time alerts to unsafe conditions, contact us to request a free demo of our food safety temperature monitoring solutions. ComplianceMate has remote temperature monitoring equipment and checklist management systems to improve your food safety and boost your bottom line.