If you’re familiar with the food service industry, the temperature danger zone (TDZ) is an infamous zone you don’t want to find your food in, yet a zone you must be familiar with! Yet, knowledge of the TDZ is not and should not be limited to food service workers and employees, but for all those consuming foods. Yes, that includes YOU!
The numerical “zone” that’s dangerous is between 5°C and 60°C. For the folks that use Fahrenheit, that’s equivalent to 40-140°F. It’s important to be mindful of this range as the TDZ is when it’s easiest for harmful bacteria (i.e. staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella Enteritidis,Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Campylobacter) to grow in food.
To limit bacterial growth, it’s the responsibility of food service handlers to limit time in the TDZ and to monitor the temperature of food on a consistent basis. Cold foods needs to be kept at 5°C or below and hot foods held at 60°C or above.
Additionally, there is a 4 hour/2 hour rule. If cold food (i.e. sandwiches, salads or fruit) or hot foods (i.e. meat, pie or lasagna) has been in the TDZ for:
If the 4 hour/2 hour rule is intended to be used, it must be demonstrated that food is safe by use of temperature logs and frequent testing with a thermometer. Don’t have a thermometer? Get one! It’s one of the most important life saving tools in the kitchen, literally!
Photo Credit: Thermapen