In order to keep food from becoming contaminated it is essential to practice proper food safety temperature and monitoring. This must be done at all times to keep food safe and out of “the danger zone”. For most types of food this temperature is between 41° F and 140° F. This danger zone is applicable to hot and cold foods.
Hot Food Safe Temperatures Hot foods need to be cooked to a specific minimum temperature to reduce risks of bacteria and germs that can cause food poisoning. A food thermometer should be used to ensure food has been heated and cooked to the right temperature.
Hot Food Safe Standards
- 135° F: Cooked vegetables need to be at least this hot before serving.
- 145° F: Beef, pork, bacon, ham, seafood, and fish you intend to serve right away need to reach this temperature for proper food safety. The temperature must be maintained at least 15 seconds.
- 155° F: Ground beef and pork need to reach this temperature. They should also maintain it for a minimum of 15 seconds. Eggs should be heated to this temperature.
- 165° F: All poultry foods need to be cooked to at least this temperature and held for at least 15 seconds. Reheated foods also need to reach this minimum temperature.
There are Exceptions.
For instance with some types of beef you have several different temperature options:
- 130° F for at least 121 minutes.
- 140° F for at least 12 minutes.
- 145° F for at least 3 minutes.
Cooked food should be allowed to rest for a few minutes after removal from cooking. Temperature will continue to increase while food rests initially. The increasing temperature continues to kill bacteria as it rests initially. It is best to check the temperature of your hot food at this time, after a period of initial rest, and if it is not up to temperature continue cooking the food until it reaches the proper and safe temperature.
Cold Food Safe Temperatures
Cold foods need to stay at a temperature between 33° F and 41° F. Frozen foods must be kept at 32 ° F or less.
Hot and Cold Together
When holding hot foods for a period of time, such as a buffet, the minimum temperature you needed for safety is 135° F. Hot and cold foods should never be kept close enough to each other to contaminate. The hot food will cool down, while the cold food will warm up. This could result in food passing into the danger zone.