If you’ve ever worked in the restaurant industry, then you know all about the ‘Danger Zone’. If you haven’t, then you might be scratching your head. What is the danger zone? It the range of temperatures at which bacteria is most likely to grow on your food. That range is from 40°-140°.
When you leave food out at room temperature for too long, you expose it to unnecessary. Common bacteria found in the kitchen include Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella Enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Campylobacter. As a general rule, you should never leave food out of refrigeration for any longer than two hours; hot food should not be kept out any longer than one hour when temperatures outdoors exceed 90°.
What else can you do to prevent foodborne illness? Here are some tips:
- To keep cold food cold (below 40°) put it on ice in a bowl.
- Warm food should be kept at 140° or greater using chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, warming tray or slow cookers.
- Bacteria can grow on your food even after is has been cooked. In order to prevent this you need to separate out large quantities of food into smaller, shallower containers and store them immediately in a refrigerator.
- If you plan on reheating food, be sure that it is heated to an internal temperature of 165°.
Check out this graphic from the Food Safety and Inspection Service for minimum internal temperatures:
Now that you know about the danger zone, you can put it into practice. There is no reason anyone in your household, or visitors to your home should be subject to foodborne illness, especially when it is easy enough to prevent. If you suspect a case of foodborne illness, report it to your local health department – it can sometimes signal a bigger problem with distributors.
Source - "Danger Zone" (40 °F - 140 °F)
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