What is the hot holding temp for TCS foods? | - From Hunger To Hope (2023)

Hot holding is the practice of keeping prepared, perishable food at temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) or above. This temperature range, known as the “danger zone”, is considered a dangerous and risky situation from a food safety perspective. Consuming food that has been held in this temperature range for more than two hours can lead to risk of illness or even death.

To ensure that temperature-critical foods (TCS foods) are safe for consumption, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all TCS foods be kept above 140°F (60°C). This includes fish, poultry, cooked pasta, beef and beef products, cooked potatoes, and cooked rice among others. Keeping TCS food items at hot-holding temperatures will inhibit growth of potentially harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli as well as preventing spoilage from occurring. It also helps to maintain an acceptable flavor and texture to these types of foods when served.

Definition of TCS Foods

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TCS foods are foods that require Time and Temperature Control for Safety (TCS). These are food items that require time and temperature control to keep bacteria levels low enough to maintain safety. TCS foods are also known as potentially hazardous foods and can include dairy products, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish and their derivatives, baked goods including pies, sandwiches and other cut fruits/vegetables that have been modified to be eaten without further cooking.

The hot holding temperature for TCS foods is always kept at a minimum of 135°F (57°C), as suggested by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). This is necessary to ensure that no harmful bacteria survive in the food items. Hot-held TCS foods must also be held at temperatures above 140°F (60°C) if they are placed into a heated holding area such as an oven or heated cabinet. Hotholding temperatures should not exceed 165°F (74°C) maximum for no more than two hours for any cooked product or potentially hazardous food item.

Hot Holding Temperature Requirements

Hot holding temperatures are important for food safety. Time/temperature control for safety (TCS) foods must be kept at an internal temperature of 135°F or higher to avoid the risk of foodborne illness when kept in hot holding. For proper hot holding, it is essential to understand the key requirements and processes in order to ensure TCS food is held at the correct temperature.

Hot and Cold Holding Temperatures

Having the proper hot and cold holding temperatures is essential to ensuring food safety. This guide provides information on hot and cold holding temperature requirements for both cooked and uncooked foods, as well as tips on how to safely hold them.

Hot Holding Temperature Requirements
When storing cooked food for an extended period of time, it should always be held at 140°F (60°C) or higher. Any food item that has been cooked must remain at 135°F (57°C) or higher in order to be considered safe to consume. It is important to monitor the internal temperatures of all hot-held items regularly throughout the day and discard any food that has not been above this temperature for a consecutive two-hour period due to the risk of bacterial growth.

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Cold Holding Temperature Requirements
Any food product stored in a refrigerator should stay at 40°F (4°C) or lower in order to prevent any potential bacterial growth. Any food held colder than this temperature should be monitored with a thermometer periodically throughout the day and discarded if it is not below 40°F (4°C). Additionally, thawed products that are held in the refrigerator should not stay in there more than 24 hours before being consumed or refrozen within one hour after cooking in order to ensure its safety for later consumption.

Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) Foods

In general, potentially hazardous food (time/temperature control for safety food, or TCS food) must be held at a temperature of 40°F (4°C) or below, or 140°F (60°C) or above to limit bacterial growth. TCS foods include dishes such as meat and poultry, fish, shellfish and dairy products. Hot holding temperature requirements are designed to help keep these perishable items safe from contamination.

For hot holding temperatures, any cooked foods should not be stored at temperatures between 41-140°F (4.4- 60°C). This range of temperatures is known as the “Danger Zone” because it is the ideal temperature for bacterial growth. If you’re hot holding foods for service in this range, it is important to monitor these temperatures frequently so that the items remain safe from microbial contamination.

To ensure that your hot held foods are safe for consumption, all cooked TCS foods should be held at an internal temperature of at least 140°F (60°C). Whenever possible use a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature of your food; this will give you the most reliable assessment of the item’s safety during hold time. Check thermometers regularly and replace when necessary; a broken thermometer can give an inaccurate reading and leave your products vulnerable to contamination.

Temperature Danger Zone

Foods in the Temperature Danger Zone for more than two hours should not be served. Ready-to-eat foods like deli meats, salads, and hot foods like chili can be kept in temperature at 140°F or above while they are being held and served. To keep your food safe, food in the Temperature Danger Zone must be continually monitored to make sure it is either cooled quickly or heated up quickly.

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The danger zone refers to the temperature range between 41°F and 135°F (5°C—57°C), which is prime breeding grounds for microorganisms that cause spoilage of food. Hotter temperatures can kill these microorganisms, so if you are holding a TCS food for an extended period of time it should always be kept at or above 140°F (60°C). Water baths can also be used to maintain this temperature. If a prepared TCS food item has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours or has not been cooked to its proper minimum internal temperature as listed below, then it should not be consumed.

Minimum Internal Temperatures:
– Ground Meat: 155°F (68°C)
– Poultry: 165°F (74°C)
– Eggs dishes: 160 °F (71 °C)
– Fish/Seafood: 145 °F (63 °C)

Hot Holding Temperature Requirements for TCS Foods

Hot holding is an important food safety practice for all businesses that serve potentially hazardous food (TCS). Holding food at the correct temperature prevents bacteria from growing and keeps food safe for consumption. According to the FDA Food Code, food must be held at or above 135°F (57.2°C) or hotter to be considered safe for hot holding. In this article, we’ll assess the hot holding temperature requirements for TCS foods.

Food Storage and Hot Holding Temperatures

Cold TCS food must be held at 41°F or below, with no temperature abuse above 41°F. Hot TCS food must be held at 135°F or above, with no cold spots in the food below 135°F. Other common hot holding temperatures are kept between 135-155°F (depending on the product). You can find specific temperature details in your local and state regulations; some local health departments may have stricter requirements than government regulations and those should always be consulted first.

It is important to note that holding a hot food item longer than 4 hours without proper temperature action risks the safety of customers. Do not let precious time pass without taking steps to hold your TCS foods at the appropriate temperature; remember, bacteria love anywhere between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit! Adequate thermal insulation technology, such as heat lamps, chafing dishes and protective covering, are all essential for safely holding a wide variety of TCS foods in pre-service and service areas.

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When storing hot TCS foods in bulk or single service containers like pans or bowls, make sure to use an appropriate water bath that is maintained over 150°F during service hours. If reheating previously cooked items before serving them hot, reheat them rapidly and uniformly to 165 °F as measured by a thermometer prior to serving or holding them for service.

Hot Holding Temperature Requirements for Specific Foods

For hot holding food items, the safe minimum temperature as specified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is 135°F (57°C). This ensures that all food items remain safe for consumption. It is important to note that different food products require different hot-holding temperatures in order to stay safe for consumption.

Below are the hot-holding temperatures recommended by the FDA for various foods:

-Cooked meat, poultry, eggs, and fish – 140°F (60°C) or above
-Soups and gravies – 165°F (74°C) or above
-Ready-to-eat meals – 140°F (60°C) or above
-Fresh fruits and vegetables – 135°F (57°C) or above
-Ground beef patties – 155°F (68oC) or above


What is the hot holding temperature for TCS foods? ›

Maintain hot TCS food at 135°F or above. Properly cooked roasts may be held at 130°F or above. TCS food must be cooled from 135°F to 70°F within 2 hours and completely cooled to 41°F or below within 6 hours. TCS food prepared from ingredients at room temperature must be cooled to 41°F or below within 4 hours.

What is the correct combination of holding temperatures for hot and cold TCS foods? ›

To keep bacteria from growing on TCS foods, food must be maintained either hot (135ºF or above) or cold (41ºF or below). and getting used to their new home. Given the right conditions, the lag phase can last on average about four hours.

What is the maximum amount of time hot TCS food can be held without temperature control? ›

TCS foods that are ready-to-eat can be safely consumed in a four hour window. If they have not been temperature controlled, they should be discarded after four hours. Hot held and cold held foods can be served for four hours without temperature controls if they are discarded after the four-hour time limit.

How often should you check the temperature of TCS food being held at higher than 135 F? ›

Once a TCS food has been cooked, it must be held at the correct internal temperature. Cold TCS food must maintain a temperature of 41° F (5° C) or colder, while hot TCS food must maintain a temperature of 135° F (57° C) or hotter. Temperatures of held TCS food should be taken every two hours.

What temperature is required for TCS food that is cold held on a salad buffet? ›

Here are some reminders for other TCS foods in salad bar or self-serve areas: Cold foods must be maintained at 41℉ or below. Hot food must be maintained at 135℉ or above. Food must pass through the temperature danger zone quickly to reduce the growth of pathogens.

Which of these is a TCS food Servsafe? ›

TCS FOODS include Milk, Eggs, Shellfish, Fish, Meats, Meat Alternatives, Untreated Garlic & Oil Mixtures, Baked Potatoes, Raw Sprouts, Cooked Rice, Cut Tomatoes, and Cut Melons.

What is the correct temperature and time used for reheating hot holding food? ›

Hot-Holding Foods:

temperature of all foods. Use cleaned and sanitized utensils. 2 hours, reheat the food to 165°F for 15 sec.

Why does TCS food require time and temperature control for safety? ›

Food Safety - Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) Food

A TCS food requires time and temperature controls to limit the growth of illness causing bacteria.

What are TCS and ready to eat food? ›

Refrigerated, ready-to-eat (RTE), time-temperature control (TCS) foods prepared onsite or prepared by a food processing plant once the package is opened.

What is the minimum temp for holding hot foods? ›

Hot holding food

Maintain hot food at 135°F or above.

What is the safe holding temperature for food? ›

Correct Holding Control bacteria growth by keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Temperatures Hot foods should be kept at 135° F (57.2° C) or above. Cold foods should be refrigerated at 41° F (5° C) or below.

What is the minimum internal cooking temperature for time temperature control for safety TCS foods when cooked in the microwave? ›

Cooked and cooled potentially hazardous foods (TCS) shall be reheated to at least 165oF (74oC) for 15 seconds Foods reheated in a microwave are rotated or stirred, covered, held for 2 minutes and achieve an internal temperature of 165oF (74oC).

What is the 4 hour rule for food safety? ›

Food held between 5oC and 60oC for 4 hours or more must be thrown away. The time between 5oC and 60oC is cumulative— that means you need to add up every time the food has been out of the fridge, including during preparation, storage, transport and display.

How long can you hold food at 140 degrees? ›

Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the "Danger Zone." Never leave food out of refrigeration over 2 hours.

Which item must be held at 41 F or lower? ›

FRESH MEAT, POULTRY, FISH AND DAIRY PRODUCTS should be stored at 41F or lower. Fish and poultry can be stored on self-draining ice but must change containers regularly.

How many hours can hot TCS food at a picnic be served before it must be sold served or thrown out? ›

- The food must be sold, served, or thrown out within four hours. Ready-to-eat fruit or vegetables that become a TCS food when cut, chopped, or sliced and hermetically sealed containers of food that become a TCS food when opened, like a can of tuna, can have an initial temperature of 70°F (21°C) or lower.

What is the 2 hour rule for food? ›

Remember the 2-Hour Rule: Discard any perishables left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours, unless you're keeping it hot or cold. If the buffet is held in a place where the temperature is above 90 °F, the safe holding time is reduced to 1 hour. Watch the clock with leftovers, too!

What is the temperature for holding hot food on a buffet table? ›

Hot foods should be held at 140°F or warmer. On the buffet table, keep hot foods hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers and warming trays. Cold foods should be held at 40°F or colder.

How long can ready to-eat TCS food be stored in a cooler? ›

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.

How long can ready to-eat TCS food be stored in a refrigerator? ›

Refrigerate all ready-to-eat, TCS foods at 41 ºF or below. 6. Serve or discard refrigerated, ready-to-eat, TCS foods within 7 days.

Which 3 foods are a type of TCS food? ›

Foods that need time and temperature control for safety—known as TCS foods—include milk and dairy products, eggs, meat (beef, pork, and lamb), poultry, fish, shellfish and crustaceans, baked potatoes, tofu or other soy protein, sprouts and sprout seeds, sliced melons, cut tomatoes, cut leafy greens, untreated garlic- ...

Do you reheat food to 165 before hot holding it? ›

The State Sanitary Code now requires that the entire mass of all cooked and refrigerated potentially hazardous food which is to be reheated must be reheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit or above within two hours, and held above 140 degrees Fahrenheit until served.

When must you reheat food to 165 F 74 C What must she do next? ›

Foods reheated in a microwave oven must be reheated so that all parts of the food reach a temperature of at least 165°F. The food must be stirred, covered, and allowed to stand covered for 2 minutes after reheating.

When reheating food must reach 60 C or above within two hours? ›

If you reheat previously cooked and cooled potentially hazardous food, you must reheat it rapidly to 60°C or hotter. Ideally, you should aim to reheat food to 60°C within a maximum of two hours to minimise the amount of time that food is at temperatures that favour the growth of bacteria or formation of toxins.

How many hours can a foodservice operation hold hot TCS food without temperature control before the food must be sold served or thrown out? ›

Hot food can be held without temperature control for up to four hours if: It was held at 135˚F (57˚C) or higher before removing it from temperature control. It has a label specifying when the item must be thrown out. It is sold, served, or thrown out within four hours.

What must be done with a TCS food that will be held longer than 24 hours? ›

To monitor and limit refrigeration time, refrigerated ready-to-eat, TCS food held for more than 24 hours shall be date-marked to ensure that the food is either consumed on the premises or sold or discarded within seven (7) days.

What is the maximum receiving temperature for TCS in degrees Fahrenheit? ›

Receiving - TCS foods should be at 41°F or less when received; frozen foods should be solidly frozen.

Which food must be received at 41 degrees Fahrenheit? ›

Live shellfish Receive oysters, mussels, clams, and scallops at an air temperature of 45°F (7°C) and an internal temperature no greater than 50°F (10°C). Once received, the shellfish must be cooled to 41°F (5°C) or lower in four hours.

What food is safe to-eat at 145? ›

Note: There are three important temperatures to remember when cooking meat or eggs at home: Eggs and all ground meats must be cooked to 160°F; poultry and fowl to 165°F; and fresh meat steaks, chops and roasts to 145°F.

What foods does 2 4 hour rule apply? ›

The 2 Hour/ 4 Hour Rule tells you how long freshly potentially hazardous foods*, foods like cooked meat and foods containing meat, dairy products, prepared fruits and vegetables, cooked rice and pasta, and cooked or processed foods containing eggs, can be safely held at temperatures in the danger zone; that is between ...

What is the food 5 minute rule? ›

Faster is better.

A piece of food will pick up more bacteria the longer it spends on the floor. So food left there for 5 seconds or less will probably collect fewer bacteria than food sitting there for a longer time.

What is the 4 hour rule E? ›

The policy stated that most patients presenting to Emergency Departments (EDs) were to be seen and either admitted, transferred, or discharged within 4 hours.

What is the 40 140 4 hour rule? ›

40-140-4 Rule for Meat

If you are planning to smoke or grill meat, you should know about the 40-140-4 rule; The idea behind this rule is that meat should increase the temperature from 40°F to 140°F within 4 hours. It will reduce the bacteria growth to a great extent.

What is food holding temperatures between 40 degrees and 140 degrees known as? ›

The "Danger Zone" (40 °F-140 °F)

This range of temperatures is often called the "Danger Zone." That's why the Meat and Poultry Hotline advises consumers to never leave food out of refrigeration over 2 hours. If the temperature is above 90 °F, food should not be left out more than 1 hour.

How long is food safe at 40 degrees? ›

In Case of Disaster...

Before using any foods, check your refrigerator and freezer thermometers. If the fridge is still at or below 40 °F, or the food has been above 40 °F for only 2 hours or less, it should be safe to eat.

How long can ready to-eat TCS foods be held if properly stored at 41 F or lower? ›

Regardless of which information format you are using, ready to eat foods can only be kept for a maximum of 7 days at 41°F (5°C) or below. Past this threshold, foods must be discarded properly.

How long can TCS foods be stored at 41 °F or below? ›

TCS Holding Temperatures

Hold hot foods at 135℉ or above. Store ready-to-eat TCS food at 41°F (5°C) or lower for a maximum of seven days. Check the food temperature every four hours. Discard any food, not at 41ºF or lower or 135ºF or higher for more than four hours.

Which food must be stored at a temperature of 41 F 5 C or lower? ›

Hot foods must be held at 135° F or higher and cold foods must be held at 41° F or lower. Temperatures should be taken every four hours and your manager should be notified if a food is not at its correct holding temperature.

Why is it important to get the food from 135 F to 70 F 57 C to 21 C in the first two hours? ›

The FDA Food Code has one additional rule: Food must be cooled from 135°F to 70°F (57°C to 21°C) in two hours or less. In this range, bacteria can double in as little as 20 minutes. The faster food passes through this temperature range, the better.

Which of these foods must be kept at 41 F or lower for food safety? ›

Salad bars and refrigerators need to maintain temperatures at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and below to prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria. This is especially important as you house vulnerable TCS foods including cheese, yogurts, meats, salad dressings, and egg products.

What is the minimum temperature that must be maintained when holding hot soup for service? ›

Maintain hot food at 135°F or above.

Should hot food be held at 135 F 57 C or higher? ›

Very hot or freshly prepared foods can be held at 135°F (57°C) or above. This temperature stops the growth of any potentially contaminating bacteria or other pathogens.

Why is it necessary to hot hold foods at 60 C 140 F or hotter? ›

Bacteria can grow in the danger zone between 4 °C and 60 °C (40 °F to 140 °F). Keep cold foods cold at or below 4 °C (40 °F) and keep hot foods hot at or above 60 °C (140 °F).

Should hot foods be held at 140 F 60 C or above? ›

If you aren't going to serve hot food right away, it's important to keep it at 140 °F or above. One of the most common causes of foodborne illness is improper cooling of cooked foods. Bacteria can be reintroduced to food after it is safely cooked.

Can ready to eat TCS food held at 41 degrees or below be used for 7 days? ›

Cold: maintain at 41°F or lower. *TCS foods may be held for up to 7 days at 41°F or up to 4 days if held at 45°F. Frozen: maintain at 0°F or lower.

Should hot food be held at 40 F 4.4 OC or warmer? ›

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Also keep an eye on the clock for foods holding temporarily between 40 °F (4.4 ºC) and 140 °F (60 °C), as bacteria rapidly grow when food is left in the 'danger zone. ' Hot food: Should be held at 140 °F (60 °C) or warmer.

How long can food stay at 45 degrees? ›

Discard any refrigerated perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, milk, eggs or leftovers) that has been at refrigerator temperatures above 40°F for four hours or more.

How long can food stay above 41 degrees? ›

Temperature danger zone: 41 to 135 degrees F. 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.

Which of the following foods must be stored between 32 and 36 degrees F? ›

For optimal quality and safety, dairy products should be stored at refrigerated temperatures between 34°F and 38°F, meats between 33°F and 36°F, and eggs 33°F to 37°F. Fresh vegetables and ripe fresh fruits should be stored between 35°F and 40°F.

What is the hot holding temperature for Servsafe? ›

Prevent time-temperature abuse and contamination: Keep hot food at 135˚F (57˚C) or higher. Keep cold food at 41˚F (5˚C) or lower.

What is the minimum hot holding temperature for food on a buffet line? ›

Hot foods should be held at 140°F or warmer. On the buffet table, keep hot foods hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers and warming trays. Cold foods should be held at 40°F or colder.


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