September 21
We continue to celebrate 30 years of food safety from ServSafe with 30 tips to help you manage risk in your restaurant. We have six tips this week focused on proper food safety procedures.

Following Food Safety Procedures

Most foodborne illness happens because TCS food (food that needs time and temperature control for safety) has been time-temperature abused. TCS food has been time-temperature abused any time it remains between 41°F and 135°F (5°C and 57°C) This is called the temperature danger zone because pathogens grow in this range. The longer food stays in the temperature danger zone the more time pathogens have to grow. To keep food safe you have to keep it out of the temperature danger zone or limit the time spent in this range. Here are six tips to help make that happen.
Tip 1: Receive food correctly. If food is not safe when you receive it, there is nothing you can do to make it safe afterward:
  • Purchase food only from approved, reputable suppliers:
    • These suppliers have been inspected and can show you an inspection report
    • They meet local, state, and federal laws
  • Receive food at the right temperature:
    • Receive cold TCS food at 41°F (5°C) or lower unless otherwise specified
    • Receive hot TCS food at 135°F (57°C) or higher
    • Frozen food should be frozen solid when received
Tip 2: Store food correctly. If food is not stored at the correct temperature, any pathogens in the food can grow to unsafe levels and cause foodborne illness:
  • Store food at the correct temperature
  • Store TCS food at an internal temperature of 41°F (5°C) or lower or 135°F (57°C) or higher
  • Store frozen food at temperatures that will keep it frozen
  • Monitor food temperature regularly
  • Date mark TCS food held longer than 24 hours. Refrigeration slows the growth of most bacteria, but some types will grow well at refrigeration temperatures:
    • Ready-to-eat TCS food stored at 41°F (5°C) or lower can only be stored for a maximum of 7 days. After this time some types of bacteria can grow to dangerous levels
Tip 3: Cook food to the right temperature. To reduce pathogens in food to safe levels you must cook it to its required minimum internal temperature. Once reached, you must hold the food at this temperature for a specific amount of time. Different foods must be cooked to different temperatures:
  • 165°F (74°C) for <1 second (Instantaneous):
    • Poultry—including whole or ground chicken, turkey, or duck
    • Stuffing made with fish, meat, or poultry
    • Stuffed meat, seafood, poultry, or pasta
    • Dishes that include previously cooked TCS ingredients
  • 155°F (68°C) for 17 seconds:
    • Ground meat—including beef, pork, and other meat
    • Meat mechanically tenderized with needles or blades or by injecting it with brine or flavors (e.g., brined ham or flavor-injected roasts)
    • Meat vacuum-tumbled with marinades or other solutions
    • Ground meat from game animals commercially raised and inspected
    • Ratites (mostly flightless birds with flat breastbones)—including ostrich and emu
    • Ground seafood—including chopped or minced seafood
    • Shell eggs that will be hot held for service
  • 145°F (63°C) for 15 seconds:
    • Seafood—including fish, shellfish, and crustaceans
    • Steaks/chops of pork, beef, veal, and lamb
    • Commercially-raised game
    • Shell eggs that will be served immediately
  • 135°F (57°C) (no minimum time):
    • Food from plants, including fruits, vegetables, grains (e.g., rice, pasta), and legumes (e.g., beans, refried beans) that will be hot held for service
Tip 4: Hold food at the right temperature. Bacteria in food will grow to unsafe levels if you don’t hold food at the correct temperature. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold:
  • Hold cold TCS food at 41°F (5°C) or lower
  • Hold hot TCS food at 135°F (57°C) or higher
Tip 5: Cool TCS Food as quickly as possible. Pathogens grow well at temperatures between 41°F and 135°F (5°C and 57°C) But they will grow much faster between 125°F and 70°F (52°C and 21°C). Food must pass through this temperature range quickly to reduce this growth:
  • Never cool food at room temperature
  • Cool TCS food from 135°F to 41°F (57°C to 5°C) or lower within six hours as follows:
    • First, cool food from 135°F to 70°F (57°C to 21°C) within two hours
    • Then cool it from 70°F to 41°F (21°C to 5°C) or lower in the next four hours
  • Never cool large amounts of TCS food in a cooler
  • Divide hot food into smaller containers/amounts before cooling
Tip 6: Reheat food the right way. If food is not handled carefully during holding or cooling, any pathogens in the food can multiply to dangerous levels. Reheating food properly can reduce these pathogens to safe levels:
  • Food that will be served immediately can be reheated to any temperature.
  • TCS Food that will be reheated for hot holding must be reheated to 165°F (74°C) for 15 seconds within two hours.

Food Safety Procedure Guidelines to Follow:

  1. Receive food correctly
  2. Store food correctly
  3. Cook food at the right temperature
  4. Hold food at the right temperature
  5. Reheat food properly 
To extend your Food Safety Month experience, visit our resources page to download posters, activity sheets, and more!