Critical Temperatures for Food Service
The following temperature guidelines, based on the federal Food and Drug Administrations 2009 Food Code, apply at various stages of food preparation and serving. Strictly maintaining these temperatures is particularly important when dealing with potentially hazardous foods. These foods, which favor bacterial growth, include meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, dairy products, cut melon, raw seed sprouts, garlic-in-oil mixtures, cooked rice or potatoes and others.
Remember the danger zone: 41º F - 135º F. Potentially hazardous foods exposed to this temperature range for a cumulative total of more than 4 hours are not safe to eat.
|41º F or below|
|Frozen foods||0º F or below|
- Check temperatures of food upon receipt and reject any potentially hazardous foods that fall outside of accepted ranges.
- Put perishable foods away promptly.
|Refrigeration (air) temperature||38º F or below|
|Refrigeration (food) temperature||41º F or below|
|Seafood||30º F - 34º F|
|Fresh produce||41º F - 45º F|
|Deep chill||26º F - 32º F|
|Freezer (food) temperature||0º F or below|
|Dry storage||50º F - 70º F|
- Use open shelving and do not cover food with foil.
- Checks foods in multiple locations throughout a cold storage area; temperature may not be uniform.
- For ready-to-eat foods prepared on-site, label and comply with storage time standards (seven days maximum for food held at 41º F or below).
|In the refrigerator||41º F or below|
|Under running water||70º F or below (water temperature)|
- Do not thaw at room temperature.
- If a microwave is used to thaw food, the food must be cooked immediately after thawing.
|Beef roast||145º F for minimum of 3 minutes or|
|140º F for 12 minutes or|
|130º F for 121 minutes|
|Beef, steaks, pork, ham,
fish, seafood (filets, chops or
intact pieces), bacon
|145º F for minimum of
|Ground beef or pork,
|155º F for minimum of
|Poultry, stuffed foods||165º F for minimum of
|Cooked to hold||155º F for minimum of
|Cooked to order||145º F for minimum of
|Foods cooked in microwave||165º F, hold for minimum
of 2 minutes
|Fruits, vegetables||135º F (no minimum time)|
- For combination dishes, choose the ingredient with the most stringent standard and follow it.
- Measure temperature in the thickest part of the food.
Cooling Potentially Hazardous Food
|From hot temperature||Cool to 70º F within two 2 hours; cool to 41º F or below within 4 more hours (6 hours total)|
|From room temperature||Cool to 41º F within 4 hours|
- Do not cool at room temperature.
- Use a blast chiller or ice bath to hasten cooling.
- Divide food into small units or use a shallow pan.
|Hot food||135º F or above|
|Cold food||41º F or below|
- Keep food covered.
- Stir hot food frequently.
- Store utensil in food.
- Take actual food temperature; do not rely on a thermostat setting.
- Check temperature frequently (at least every 2 hours).
- Do not use hot holding equipment to heat or reheat food.
|Leftovers||165º F minimum|
|Cold food||41º F or below|
- Food must reach temperature within 2 hours.
More Useful Temperatures
|Handwashing water||110º F|
|Sanitizing solutions (heat)|| 170º F for minimum of
|Sanitizing solutions (chemical)||75º F - 120º F|
To learn more about foodborne illness and ways to prevent it, talk to your health care professional, your local health department or the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Food, Drugs and Dairies.
525 W. Jefferson St., Springfield, IL 62761