Food storage and serving temperatures

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Températures de conservation et de service des aliments

Complete Guide to Food Safety and Food Service Temperatures for Businesses

Food storage temperatures are essential to monitor daily by food service establishments and restaurants. Find out below about the legal and recommended temperatures for food safety, which temperatures to check, and which types of thermometers are best for each.

Food Storage Temperature Chart

Dangerous zone 8 to 63°C
Refrigerated food deliveries 8°C
Frozen product deliveries -18°C
Refrigerator temperature 5°C
Freezer temperature -18°C
Cooked food 70°C *
Refrigerated foods 8°C in 90 minutes
Reheated dishes 70°C
Keeping hot 63°C

Temperature of cooked food

* The temperature of hot food depends on what you are serving. You can consult our cooking temperature chart for recommended temperatures for meat, confectionery and baked goods. The standard advice is to cook food until it reaches 70°C and stay at that temperature for 2 minutes.

Other combinations of time and temperature are:

  • 60°C for 45 minutes
  • 65°C for 10 minutes
  • 70°C for 2 minutes
  • 75°C for 30 seconds
  • 80°C for 6 seconds

Cooking food at the correct temperature and for the correct length of time will ensure that all harmful bacteria are destroyed. Use a food probe thermometer to check that the core temperature of hot foods has reached a safe temperature.

Dangerous zone

The danger zone is the optimal temperature range for harmful bacteria to grow in food. The danger zone temperature for food is between 8 and 63°C .

To avoid the risk of foodborne illness, most hot foods should be cooked above 63°C (certain foods such as rare beef are exceptions to this rule). Cold foods should be kept at a temperature below 8°C .

Time is also important when it comes to the danger zone. The longer food remains between 8 and 63°C , the greater the risk of harmful bacteria forming. Therefore, when food is cooked, cooled and reheated, it is recommended that it passes through the danger zone as quickly as possible.

Delivery temperature of refrigerated and frozen foods

When refrigerated and frozen foods arrive at your business, it may be a good idea to take the temperature between products using a probe between packages to ensure they have remained at the correct temperature during transport.
The safe delivery temperature for refrigerated food is 8°C or lower. The safe delivery temperature for frozen products is -18°C or lower.

Storage temperature of refrigerated and frozen foods

Cold foods should be stored at 8°C or lower . This is a legal requirement in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Ideally, refrigerator temperatures in the UK should be kept at around 5°C ; use a refrigerator thermometer to monitor this. For other cold foods like prep counters, use a food probe thermometer to take internal measurements of the food.

The safe storage temperature for frozen foods is 18°C ​​or lower . Use refrigerator/freezer thermometers to check freezers daily. It's also a good idea to take temperatures between packages to get a more accurate idea of ​​the temperature of your frozen foods and to make sure your equipment is working properly.

Food cooling temperature

Hot cooled and refrigerated foods should be brought below 8°C as quickly as possible to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria. However, hot foods cannot be placed in a refrigerator or freezer until they have cooled, otherwise it could raise the temperature of the refrigerator to a dangerous level and put other foods at risk. Ideally, hot foods should be cooled to below 8°C within 90 minutes .

Data loggers provide an in-depth way to track the safety of your cooking and cooling processes.

Hot holding temperature

Keeping hot involves cooking hot food and keeping it warm for a period of time before serving it. It is important that hot foods are kept above 63°C before serving to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Use a food probe thermometer to test the core temperature of hot, precooked foods to ensure they are safe to serve.

Hot foods should be consumed within two hours. If it has not been used within two hours, it can be reheated to 70°C (and held at that temperature for two minutes) and then put back warm (provided it has not already been reheated only once). Alternatively, it can be cooled as quickly as possible to 8°C or lower. Food left out for more than two hours should be thrown away.

Temperature for reheated food

Reheated foods must be perfectly cooked. The temperature for food to be reheated in England is 70°C for two minutes or equivalent (see other time and temperature combinations in the Temperature of cooked food section ).

Use a food thermometer probe to check the internal temperature of your reheated food in multiple locations to ensure it has reached a safe temperature throughout.

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