Temperature Danger Zone

Temperature Danger Zone https://wahospitality.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/shutterstock_219269698.jpg

The “Danger Zone” is the temperature range in which most bacteria are able to grow in potentially hazardous foods. Because several bacteria that cause foodborne illness have been shown to grow at 45°F the Danger Zone is 41°F to 135°F.

If your current equipment is able to keep food 45°F but unable to keep food 41°F, you have until May 2010 to replace the cooler with compliant equipment.

  • The five-year grace period is only for machines unable to meet the requirement—if your cooler is mechanically able to keep foods 41°F, you will be required to adjust it to meet the required temperature.
  • If your cooler is unable to keep foods 45°F or colder, it must not be used for potentially hazardous foods.

Why isn’t the colder temperature required for eggs?
Shell eggs can still be stored at an ambient temperature of 45°F or colder because the bacteria of concern, Salmonella Enteritidis, is inhibited at 45°F. This temperature is also consistent with the USDA temperature requirement for eggs during transport.

Potentially Hazardous Foods
Potentially Hazardous Foods (PHF) are foods that require time and temperature control to prevent bacterial growth or production of bacterial toxins. PHF must be kept out of the Danger Zone for food safety.

Cooked fruits and vegetables are on the list of Potentially Hazardous Foods, which include:

Animal products:

  • ƒMeat, fish, and poultry
  • Dairy products, including custard pies
  • ƒEggs (except for air-dried, hard cooked eggs with an intact shell)

Fruits and vegetables:

  • Raw seed sprouts
  • Sliced melons
  • ƒGarlic and other herbs in oil
  • ƒCooked fruits or vegetables
  • ƒCut leafy greens
  • ƒCut tomatoes

Cooked starches:

  • ƒPotatoes, legumes, beans, rice

Although fresh, frozen or canned fruits and vegetables are ready to eat at any temperature, it is required that they be cooked to 135°F if they will be hot-held. The hot holding temperature for cooked plant foods is also 135°F to prevent the growth of disease-causing bacteria that might be present.


This article is an excerpt from the Handbook for Excellent Restaurant Operations (HERO), published by the Washington Hospitality Association.  Want a hard copy of the whole manual?  It’s one of the many benefits of becoming a member!  Find out more about joining the Washington Hospitality Association here.

View the Table of Contents

Rev. 12/17/12

Categories: HERO