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Holding Temperatures
Introduction
The failure to adequately control food temperatures is one of the most common factors involved in outbreaks for food borne illness. Since disease-causing bacteria are able to multiply rapidly at temperatures between 41°F and 135°F, this is known as the Temperature Danger Zone (TDZ).
Correct Holding Temperature
Control bacteria growth by maintaining food temperatures outside the Temperature Danger Zone. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

  • Hot foods should be kept at 135° F (57.2° C) or above.
  • Cold foods should be kept at 41° F (5° C) or below.
Holding Hot Foods
Here are some ways in which hot foods can be held safely:
  • Transfer hot foods directly to an oven, steam table, heated cabinet, or other holding unit. Never use hot holding equipment to reheat foods.
  • Reheat leftover foods to 165° F within 2 hours prior to placing into holding unit.
  • Reheat leftover foods to 165° F within 2 hours prior to placing into holding unit.
  • Stir foods at frequent intervals to evenly distribute heat.
  • Cover foods to help maintain temperature and protect from contamination.
  • To prevent cross-contamination, Never combine an older batch of food with a freshly prepared batch.
  • Check food temperatures on a regular basis (at least every 2 hours). Using a clean, sanitized thermometer. Do not rely solely on the holding equipment temperature gauges as they may not reflect the actual internal temperature of the food.
Holding cold foods
Here are some ways in which cold foods can he held safely:
  • Store foods in cold-holding units, refrigerated display cases, refrigerators, and iced displays. Cool foods to 41° F or below using approved rapid cooling methods before placing into cold holding.
  • For salad bars and other iced displays, immerse food containers into the ice to at least the top level of the food product. Never store prepared food directly on ice.
  • Cover foods to help maintain proper temperature and protect from contamination.
  • Check food temperatures on a regular basis (at least every 2 hours). Use a clean, sanitized thermometer.
  • Mount an air thermometer inside each refrigerated unit so temperatures can be readily monitored.
Helpful Hints
  • Minimize the amount of food in each container to ensure sufficient contact with the hot/cold media.
  • Do not overload holding units with large volumes of product or items that may impede airflow.
  • Holding equipment is not designed to rapidly raise or lower the temperature of food and should never be used for this purpose.
  • Discard foods held in the TDZ for four or more hours.
For more Information
For more information on food protection, please contact the Resource Management Environmental Health Division, (707) 784-6765 or visit our website at Solano County