Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) Foods Temperature Guide


Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) Foods have the highest potential for causing foodborne illness. TCS foods include an animal food that is raw or heat treated, a food of plant origin which is heat treated or consists of raw seed sprouts, cut melons, cut leafy greens (harvest cut excluded), cut tomatoes that are not modified in a way so that they are unable to support pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation, or garlic-in-oil mixtures that are not modified in a way so that they are unable to support pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation, OR a food that because of the interaction of its Aw and pH values that render the food unable to support pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation. Maintaining these foods at proper temperature reduces the possibility of foodborne illnesses. A properly calibrated metal-stemmed, bi-therm thermometer or thermocouple is necessary to verify proper temperatures. To calibrate a bi-therm thermometer, locate the nut or holder beneath the face of the dial. Place the stem of the thermometer in a glass of ice water. The temperature should reach 33°F. If it does not, adjust the needle by placing pliers or a wrench on the nut or area for the pliers and twist the face of the dial so the needle is at 33°F. A digital thermometer can also be used. Most digital thermometers are pre-calibrated by the manufacturer.

When checking food temperatures, remember to always sanitize the stem between uses and before food is checked. Alcohol pads or sanitized cloths can be used to sanitize the thermometer.

The following internal temperatures must be followed to assure food safety:

  1. Conventional cooking temperatures - 15 seconds minimum at the listed temperatures.
    1. Poultry, stuffed fish, stuffed meat, stuffed pasta, stuffed poultry, or stuffing containing fish, meat, or poultry: 165°F
    2. Comminuted fish and meats: 155°F
    3. Rare roast beef: 130°F
    4. Ground beef or patties: 155°F
    5. Eggs, fish, meat, pork, and game animals: 145°F
    6. Ready-to-eat, canned foods and foods from intact packages (such as canned, frozen soups, or hot dogs) from commercial processor should be reheated to 135 or higher for hot holding

    When cooked in a microwave, raw animal foods must be rotated or stirred during the cooking to assure better heat distribution, heated to at least 165°F, covered, and allowed to stand for two minutes.

  2. Holding TCS temperatures
    1. Hot: maintain at 135°F or above.
    2. Cold: maintain at 41°F or lower. *TCS foods may be held for up to 7 days at 41°F or up to 4 days if held at 45°F.
    3. Frozen: maintain at 0°F or lower.

  3. Reheating TCS temperatures - TCS food that is cooked, cooled, and reheated for hot holding shall be reheated so that all parts of the food reach a temperature of at least 165°F for 15 seconds. Cooked and refrigerated food that is prepared for immediate service in response to a customer order may be served at any temperature. Food reheated in a microwave, for hot holding, shall be covered and stirred throughout the reheating process and heated to at least 165°F.

  4. Cooling - Cooked TCS shall be cooled from 135°F to 70°F within two hours and from 70°F to 41°F within an additional four hours. Always use the metal stemmed or digital thermometer to verify the temperature requirements.

  5. Thawing - Thaw frozen foods under refrigeration at 41°F or less, under cold running water, or as part of the cooking process. Never at room temperature.

  6. Receiving - TCS foods should be at 41°F or less when received; frozen foods should be solidly frozen.

  7. Transporting - Follow the holding temperatures as described above when transporting foods.
Consumers are to be advised by a written consumer advisory that raw or undercooked foods of animal origin (eggs, beef, poultry, etc.) lead to increased risk of foodborne illness. The advisory does not apply to rare steaks as requested by the consumer.