Most food poisonings are associated with foods held at temperatures
between 41oF and 135oF for extended periods of time.
Health Department inspections stress temperature control of potentially
Temperature Control procedures: Rapidly cool foods to 41 degrees F. or
Proper cooling means lowering the temperature of the food quickly
enough to prevent bacterial growth. Taking too long to cool off cooked
foods is a frequent cause of food borne illness. During lengthy cooling,
disease-causing bacteria may grow in potentially hazardous foods. Avoid
letting food stay for long periods of time at growth-promoting
temperatures for bacteria 70° F - 120° F.
If the food isn't cooled from 135° F to 70° F in two hours or less, then from 70° F to 41° F in four
hours or less, enough bacteria may grow to cause a food borne illness.
Restaurants are required to cool food within time frames based on how fast
bacteria grow if food becomes contaminated. By meeting these cooling
time expectations, disease-causing bacteria won't grow to dangerous levels
even if sanitation is less than ideal.
Temperature Control procedures: Rapidly reheat to 165 degrees F. or
If the food becomes hot enough during cooking, most disease-causing
bacteria and viruses will be destroyed. One exception is a type of
bacteria that can form heat-resistant spores (an example is Clostridium perfringens.) However, cooked food can become contaminated after cooking
with bacteria from hands, utensils, coughing, sneezing, etc.
Temperature Control procedures: Hot hold at 135 degrees F. or greater.
Bacterial growth and possible toxin production by some bacteria, can
occur in potentially hazardous foods that remain at temperatures between
41oF and 135oF for extended periods of time.
Bacterial growth is greatly reduced when food temperatures reach 120oF.
It is almost completely inhibited at 135oF.
Temperature Control procedures: Required cooking temperature.
Thorough cooking of foods also provides a high degree of assurance
that any harmful microorganisms that may be present in the food will be
destroyed. Cooking temperature requirements are based in part on the
biology of the pathogen most often associated with the food being cooked.
Different species of microorganisms have different susceptibilities to
heat. Cooking can be the most effective step in eliminating microorganisms
if foods are cooked to: Poultry and Stuffed Meats—165oF;
Ground Meats—155oF; Game Meats—155oF; Eggs and
Fish—145oF; Pork—155oF and Rare Roast Beef 130oF.
Temperature Control procedures: Cold hold at 41 degree F. or less.
The rate of bacterial growth and possible toxin production by some
bacteria, can be greatly reduced when foods are held at temperatures of
less than 41oF. This cold holding temperature does not
generally kill the bacteria that may be present in food, but will slow or
inhibit their growth.
Temperature Control Equipment: Food
Because food temperature control is so critical in assuring food
safety all foods establishment must have and must use an accurate
thermometer to check food temperatures. Food product thermometers are to
be scaled 0—220oF. They must be accurate to +/-2oF.
Food workers need to verify that foods are being properly cooled, that
they are reheated to 165oF, that they are cooked to the
required temperatures, that they are held hot above 135oF, etc.
by using a thermometer.
Temperature Control Equipment: Adequate
equipment to maintain food temperatures.
The ability of equipment to cool, heat, and hold potentially
hazardous foods at required temperatures is critical to food safety.
Improper holding and cooking temperatures continue to be major
contributing factors to food borne illness. Therefore, it is very important
to have adequate cooking, hot and cold holding equipment with enough
capacity to meet the heating and cooling demands of the establishment.