What is the "danger zone" in food safety?
Apart from fragrant spices and correct technique, time and temperature are the two secret ingredients behind your favorite dish! Temperature range can determine the taste and texture of your food. Consuming partially cooked food can cause you food poisoning and other foodborne illness .
Storing food at the safe temperature is equally important. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has specified temperature range between 40 to 140Faahrenheit as the temperature danger zone .
Storing food in the danger zone can spoil your food. Bacteria like Salmonella, E-coli and Listeria starts growing on your food, when stored between 40 to 140 Fahrenheit. In fact, bacterial growth doubles in as little as 20 minutes in this temperature range , warn experts. And the longer the food stays in the danger zone, the harmful amount of bacteria it attracts.
Where did the term "danger zone" come from in food safety?
Food safety agencies of United States such as Centres for Disease Control and Prevention , Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) started using temperature danger zone ' in their advisories. They listed safe temperature for cooking variety of meats and seafood , in addition to ideal storage temperature .
These food safety organizations specifically warned to not consume food if it is left for more than two hours in this danger zone .
Cooking food can be dangerous if you don’t take the time to understand the dangers that exist.
If you don’t know what is going on in your kitchen, or don’t know how to keep your food from spoiling, then you are in the Danger Zone.
What is Time and Temperature abuse?
- When you allow the food to stay in the temperature danger zone of 40 to 140 Fahrenheit , it is termed as Time and Temperature abuse. It is one of the leading causes of foodborne illness .
- Time abuse is when after a certain point of time bacterial growth takes over your cooked food such as meat and poultry. Strictly avoid consuming food that is stored for more than two hours in the temperature danger zone of 40 to 140 Fahrenheit as it increases the risk of food poisoning and other foodborne illness .
- Temperature abuse occurs when you do not refrigerate your cooked food within stipulated time. Food experts suggest to refrigerate food within two hours.
- You can prevent time and temperature abuse by using a food thermometer. Do not solely rely on refrigerator's display temperature. It is recommended to check the food temperature every four hours. Exercising temperature control every two hours gives you a window to take corrective actions, in case.
What are time temperature control safety foods?
There are foods which either have low acidity or high moisture content and due to which they are more susceptible to bacterial growth , especially when kept at room temperature. These are called Time temperature control safety foods or TCS food. Since they are more prone to bacterial growth , they are treated differently than the non-TCS foods-- foods which have enough acidic content or low moisture to protect themselves.
These foods should not be left at temperature danger zone for more than a certain period of time, otherwise they will turn bad. And by chance, if consumed, these can cause foodborne illness .
Following are the high risk Time temperature control safety foods (TCS foods) that need close monitoring-
Milk and dairy products
Meat and poultry
Fish, shellfish, and crustaceans
Cooked rice, beans, and vegetables
Tofu, soy protein, or other plant-based meat alternatives
Sprouts and sprout seeds
Cut tomatoes, melons, and leafy greens
Untreated garlic and oil mixtures
What is food holding temperature?
In case of hot foods , once the food is cooked to the ideal internal temperaturewhich can vary from dish to dish, it is important to maintain its hot holding temperature .
To keep food safe , experts suggests 140 Fahrenheit as the appropriate hot holding temperature .
Experts suggest not to use hot holding equipment to heat food. Heat food to the safe temperature before holding as hot holding equipment is designed to maintain the internal temperature of the hot food and not heat them.
Get rid of any hot food that has been stored below 140 Fahrenheit for more than four hours.
Similarly, the cold holding temperature is 40Farenheit or below. This means once your cold foods are chilled to the safe internal temperature , make sure to store them 40Farenheit or below to prevent bacterial growth .
Make sure that the cold holding temperature of your cold foods equipment is not more than 40 or more or else it will become unfit for consumption. Any cold food refrigerated at or below 40 Fahrenheit remains fresh for 6 hours from the time it was taken out.
It is suggested to check the temperature range of cold foods every two hours. In case, the temperature of the cold food rises to or above 70 Fahrenheit, discard it immediately. Consumption of such food can lead to foodborne illness and food poisoning .
Food experts advise that salad bars and refrigerator should maintain a safe temperature of 40 Fahrenheit or lower to keep Food Safe .
People are not aware of the dangers of food safety and how to keep your food from spoiling.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about what makes food safe and what doesn't.
What do cooks need to know about the danger zone food safety
- It is a pre-requisite for the food handlers to have knowledge on safe cooking and storing temperature range , hot holding and cold holding temperatures and the consequences of danger zone , only they can maintain Food Safety
- It is difficult to understand the internal temperature of the food just by looking or touching this dish. It may look it is ready from the color but what if it is partially cooked from inside. Therefore, it is suggested that chefs and cooks should use food thermometer like Meater Plus .
- Similarly, for refrigerators, the food handling staff should use freezer thermometers to keep food safe from bacterial growth .
How can technology help out with knowledge of the danger zone?
- Hot holding equipment like steam tables is a technology's gift to making that help in maintain safe temperature range of hot foods . Similarly, cold holding equipment exercises temperature control to keep cold foods safe!
- Sensorsagain, a technology's blessing, in refrigerators and coolers ensure that the temperature is within the desired range, maintaining Food Safety .
- Similarly, food thermometers Meater Plus help you read the internal temperature of the food to make it is properly cooked from all the sides.
Enjoy the Safe Food
There's a danger zone food safety that exists in regards to cooking at a restaurant or at home. Many cooks don't know or are not aware of this but after this article, they will be.
The danger zone food safety is the temperature range between 40°F and 140°F. This is a temperature range where bacteria can grow very quickly and produce toxins that are harmful to humans.