Food Safety Temperatures

Food temperature is a key factor in bacteria growth. It is also a factor that can be controlled in commercial kitchens. By carefully monitoring the temperature of foods, you can prevent the likelihood of a foodborne illness breaking out from your restaurant kitchen. Cooking foods – or bringing them beyond a temperature in which bacteria can survive, is the best weapon. The food temperature danger zone of 41 degrees to 141 degrees F, should be avoided whenever possible. What are the safe temperatures that foods should reach to ensure bacteria is gone?

  • Microwaved stuffed meats and pastas – 165 degrees
  • Ground Beef – 160 degrees
  • Chicken – 165 degrees
  • Pork, beef, lamb, roasts, steaks – 145 degrees
  • Turkey – 165 degrees
  • Precooked ham – 140 degrees
  • Eggs – 160 degrees
  • Cheese sticks – 135 degrees for 15 seconds
  • Processed foods – 135 degrees
  • Leftovers & Casseroles – 165 degrees

Holding and Displaying Food Temperatures

  • Keep hot foods hot and cold food cold.
  • Hot foods should be maintained at 140 degrees or higher when in holding trays or display trays
  • Cold foods should be maintained at 41 degrees or colder when in holding trays or display trays
  • Marinating foods should be done at 41 degrees or colder.

With the critical importance of bringing foods to their proper temperature, thermometers should be your favorite kitchen tool. But there are many different types of food thermometers. Which type should you have in your commercial kitchen?

Food Thermometers

  • Bimetal (mechanical coil) – Oven-Safe dial thermometer. Designed to remain in the food while it is cooking. Perfect for roasts, casseroles, poultry and soups.
  • Bimetal (mechanical coil) – Instant-read dial thermometer. Designed for periodic checks of food temperature near the end of the cooking cycle. Provides accurate reads in 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Thermistor – (electronic resistor) Digital Instant-read thermometer. Provides accurate reads in 10-15 seconds. Thinner probe can be used in thick or thin foods.
  • Thermocouple - (electronic wire) Instant-read thermometer. Provides accurate reads in 2-5 seconds. Very thin temperature probe can be used in any food thickness.
  • Single-use Disposable Temperature Indicators. Reads in 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Pop-Up Thermometers – Often seen in turkeys and poultry.

Don’t let the appearance of foods fool you! There is a critical difference between food being cooked the way you like it and being cooked to a point of safety. Often in commercial kitchens, considerations are made for people who like their meats or eggs less cooked. But there is a level of responsibility that must be considered. As the manager of your kitchen and business, you have a responsibility to ensure food safety. The USDA tells us that 1 out of every 4 hamburgers turns brown before the internal temperature reached 160 degrees – or safe to eat. Use your thermometers. Visual signs of doneness should be taken into consideration only after foods have reached a safe temperature.


You must be logged in to post a comment.