In commercial foodservice, understanding food safety temperatures is crucial to protecting your guests from foodborne illness. All operators and food handlers are responsible for recognizing the importance of the temperature danger zone and should be educated to perform established food safety procedures. Keep reading to learn all about the food temperature danger zone, how long food can safely stay in the danger zone, and the food safe temperature range for hot and cold food.
How Cold Does a Salad Bar or Refrigerator Have to Be to Keep Food Safe?
Salad bars and refrigerators need to maintain temperatures at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and below to prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria. This is especially important as you house vulnerable TCS foods including cheese, yogurts, meats, salad dressings, and egg products.
Food Holding Temperature
Once your food is cooked to the proper internal temperature or chilled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, it’s important to maintain these safe temperatures before serving. There are a number of instances in which foodservice professionals need to hold food for extended periods of times. These instances could include holding food in salad bars and buffet lines or transporting food to off-site locations and catering events.
When transporting food, it is recommended you use a food pan carrier or insulated catering bag to ensure your hot or cold foods remain safe for consumption.
Cold Holding Temperature
The cold holding temperature for TCS foods must be at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Here are some tips to properly hold cold foods so they don’t fall into the danger zone:
- Ensure your cold-holding equipment keeps foods at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and below.
- Any cold food held without refrigeration is safe for up to 6 hours, starting from the time it was removed from refrigeration at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and below.
- Check the temperature of cold foods every 2 hours and discard any cold food that reaches a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.