Illinois Department of Public Health, Food Safety Fact Sheet

Critical Temperatures for Food Service

The following temperature guidelines, based on the federal Food and Drug Administration’s 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.


Refrigerated potentially
hazardous foods
41º F or below
Frozen foods 0º F or below


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


In the refrigerator 41º F or below
Under running water 70º F or below (water temperature)


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
15 seconds
Ground beef or pork,
chopped/flaked meat
155º F for minimum of
15 seconds
Poultry, stuffed foods 165º F for minimum of
15 seconds
   Cooked to hold 155º F for minimum of
15 seconds
   Cooked to order 145º F for minimum of
15 seconds
Foods cooked in microwave 165º F, hold for minimum
of 2 minutes
Fruits, vegetables 135º F (no minimum time)

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


Hot food 135º F or above
Cold food 41º F or below


Leftovers 165º F minimum
Cold food 41º F or below

More Useful Temperatures

Handwashing water 110º F
Sanitizing solutions (heat) 170º F for minimum of
30 seconds
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