Temperature Danger Zone Servsafe Westchester

Keeping Food Safe Time and Temperature Control Servsafe


A leading cause of foodborne illness is time and temperature abuse of TCS (food requiring time and temperature control for safety) foods. TCS foods are time and temperature abused any time they’re in the temperature danger zone, 41°F to 140°F. This occurs when food is: not cooked to the recommended minimum internal temperature, not held at the proper temperature, or not cooled or reheated properly.


The longer food is in the temperature danger zone, the more time pathogens have to grow. The goal is to reduce the amount of time TCS food spends in the temperature danger zone. If food is held in this range for four or more hours, you must throw it out. It’s better to check temps every two hours and take corrective action when needed.


Holding Cold Food


Cold foods must be maintained at 41°F or less




Cooking Temperatures


Eggs for immediate service, and except as otherwise required, fish, meat, and commercially raised game animals must be cooked to 145°F or above for 15 seconds

Chopped or ground meat, fish, and commercially raised game animals; pork; injected meats; and eggs cooked for hot holding must be cooked to: 155°F or above for 15 seconds, or 150°F or above for one minute, or 145°F or above for three minutes.

Poultry, stuffed food products, stuffing containing fish, meat or poultry and wild game animals must be cooked to 165°F or above for 15 seconds.


Microwave Cooking


Time and temperature control for safety foods cooked in a microwave must be cooked to 165°F. The product must be covered, and rotated or stirred during the cooking process. After cooking, allow two minutes stand time before serving.


Holding Hot Food


Hot food must be maintained at 140°F or above.


Cooling Foods


Foods must be cooled from 140°F to 70°F within two hours and from 70°F to 41°F within an additional four hours. The goal is to cool foods as quickly as possible.


Reheating Foods


Food that is reheated must reach a minimum internal temperature of at least 165°F for 15 seconds. Reheating must be done rapidly and the minimum temperature must be reached within two hours. Steam tables, warmers, or similar equipment do not heat food quickly enough and must not be used for reheating food.


Tools for Temperature Control

Remember it’s your responsibility to provide the training and the tools your staff needs to monitor time and temperature. They need to learn what to do, how to do it, why it’s important, and if necessary, what corrective action to take. Along with training, provide thermometers and temperature logs for successful monitoring.


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