Temperature Danger Zone ServSafe

What Is The Temperature Danger Zone ServSafe?

It's critical to move food out of the temperature danger zone ServSafe when cooking food that won't be served right away. Check out this article!

January 1, 2022

Everyone is concerned about food safety. All of the food you prepare, whether for yourself and your family at home or for others in a professional kitchen, must be safe to eat. It’s even more critical that individuals in charge of food safety, such as chefs and managers, understand the proper temperatures for cooking and storing food. 

It’s critical to move food out of the temperature danger zone ServSafe quickly when cooking food that won’t be served right away – for example, when food handlers partially prepare meals ahead of time to save time when they’re requested. Following Servsafe-Prep‘s proper temperature guidelines and keeping out of the temperature danger zone can help you avoid foodborne illness and maintain excellent food safety standards.

What Is The Temperature Danger Zone ServSafe?

Temperature Danger Zone ServSafe
Temperature Danger Zone ServSafe


The food danger zone for food (40°F – 140°F)

Food that has been kept at room temperature for an extended period of time provides a breeding environment for germs, allowing them to proliferate to hazardous levels and eventually become toxic (and dangerous) to the public. This is the Dangerous Food Zone.

Chart of temperature danger zones

The following are some examples of common bacteria strains that thrive at room temperature:

  • E. coli [E-coli] is a bacteria that resides in everyone’s intestines. The majority of E. coli strains are beneficial to digestion; nevertheless, certain bacteria impair human health by causing diarrhea.
  • Staphylococcus aureus is a bacteria that causes soft tissue infections, skin infections, and abscesses. It also causes infections in the bloodstream and musculoskeletal problems.
  • Salmonella Enteritidis – diarrhea and stomach cramps that last four to seven days are symptoms.

The Food Danger Zone is defined as any temperature between 40°F and 140°F; this 120°F range is where germs grow quickly and furiously. When bacteria are exposed to a danger zone temperature, they can double in size in less than twenty minutes.

Food left at temperatures ranging from 70 to 125 degrees Celsius is said to have the fastest bacterial growth. The longer the food is exposed to the risky food zone, the higher the chance of bacterial development. Food degrades when bacteria levels reach dangerous and unsafe levels, and it becomes unhealthy, if not dangerous to eat.

Professionals in the foodservice industry are in charge of keeping food safe to eat. ServSafe or other certification bodies are required in several states for food handlers. The next sections go through how to keep food safe.

Read more >> What Is The Best Alternative To Safely Cooling Foods?

How To Safely Handle Food?

How long may foods be kept in the danger zone of temperature?

Food should only be kept out for no more than 120 minutes as a general rule. Keep in mind that the safe temperature ranges are:

  • Cold Foods – At or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, cold foods are safe
  • Hot Foods – When stored at a temperature over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, hot foods are safe.

It’s crucial to remember that food should only be left out for an hour or less in a hot kitchen (90 degrees or above). Because of the increased temperatures, the two-hour time frame is reduced to only one. Kitchens that are warm or hot give dangerous germs a head start!

How to keep food out of the danger zone of temperature

The simplest method to keep food out of the danger zone is to check its temperature on a frequent basis. You know exactly what to do when you know the temperature. The stated rules of the Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) directives apply to a) cooking and preparing food and food products, and b) holding various types of food at a buffet or salad bar. The list that follows provides some industry insights on the risks of the food temperature danger zone. –

  • Monitor the freezer and refrigerator temperatures on a regular basis
  • To guarantee that the built-in thermometer is accurate, use a backup thermometer
  • Keep a running track of the time and temperature; you may need it in the future. This is critical
  • Maintain your thermometer in a professional way by cleaning and calibrating it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

How to hold hot and cold food

Once the food has been cooked to its appropriate internal temperature [which varies depending on the kind of protein] or chilled below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it must be kept at a safe temperature (i.e. one that is not in the temperature danger zone) until it is served.

Food storage and delivery situations differ, but they all should be handled with the primary objective of keeping food out of the danger zone until it is given. Consider the following food serving and delivery situations.

  • Keeping food fresh for long periods of time, such as a salad bar or a hot buffet
  • Getting food to a catered satellite event. Food must be transported according to specific requirements in order to make it safe to eat, such as using insulated bags or food pan carriers
  • In a unique location, such as a beach, a sailboat, or underwater.

What are the safe temperatures for a salad bar or refrigerator?

A refrigerator and salad bar must be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria that may be consumed by an unwitting dinner guest. This temperature requirement is especially critical for storing foods that are sensitive to bacterial development.

  • Egg and egg products
  • Salad Dressings and certain oils
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Seafood

Is it necessary to monitor the holding temperature on a regular basis?

The temperature of the food being kept for serving should be checked at least once every four hours, according to most food experts. However, it is advised that you check the temperature every 2 hours to be on the safe side. This enables for early notification of the need for corrective action, ensuring that the food provided is safe to eat and free of bacterial contamination.

Read more >> Food Safety: Role and the Process of Ensuring Food Safety

How To Safely Cook Food?

Temperature Danger Zone ServSafe
Temperature Danger Zone ServSafe


Food temperature suggested zones for cooking meat

Understanding the proper internal temperatures for many common proteins is another essential method to help avoid food from becoming hazardous. The following are the recommended internal food temperatures for preventing foodborne illness, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Category – Food

Recommended Temperatures

Ground Meat – Beef, Veal, Pork, Lamb

160 Degrees F

Ground Meat –Turkey, Chicken

160 Degrees F

Fresh – Beef, Chops, Roasts

145 Degrees F

Fresh – Turkey, Chicken

165 Degrees F


165 Degrees F


145 Degrees F


Until Yolk & Whites are Firm

Leftovers & Casseroles

165 Degrees F


Depends on fish, shellfish

Meats are allowed to rest for a certain amount of time

Before measuring the internal temperature of meat, it is critical to allow it to rest once it has been removed from its heat source. As the juice from the meat redistributes over the rest period, temperatures will first rise (for at least a brief time).

This brief rise in temperature is efficient in eliminating harmful and hazardous germs, advancing the work of food safety. It all boils down to food safety.


Refrigerators should be configured to maintain a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less.


It’s also worth noting that the temperature danger zone ServSafe isn’t the only factor that influences bacterial growth. In your kitchen, you must also follow other basic hygiene practices. Washing your hands and utensils is one of the most critical things you can do to avoid cross-contamination. Visit our website to get more information and a free ServSafe practice test! To download, visit our website for your IOS or Android device.