Skip to Main Content
Select A Store

Cool and Carry® Food Safety Program

At CHEF'STORE we take food safety very seriously. The safe transportation of your products after purchase at CHEF'STORE is just one part in the chain of food safety. We hope to provide you information that will help you stay safe and provide your customers with a product that not only tastes great but is safe to eat.

Time and temperature play a huge role in whether food is safe to eat or needs to be thrown out.

temperature zone icon

The Danger Zone

The danger zone refers to the temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F. This is the temperature range in which harmful bacteria multiply the fastest. If perishable foods stay in the danger zone too long, the food will spoil, meaning there will be no way to kill off the bacteria present in order to make the food safe for consumption. Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 and 140 °F.

Keep food cold in the refrigerator, in coolers, or on the serving line on ice. Keep hot food in the oven, in heated chafing dishes, or in preheated steam tables, warming trays and/or slow cookers. Never leave perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles in the "Danger Zone" over 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.

To keep food out of this "Danger Zone," keep cold food cold and hot food hot.

Perishable food icon

Perishable Food Defined

Perishable food refers to types of food, like meat, poultry and seafood, that will spoil if not properly refrigerated. Most, perishable food also has to go through a "kill stage," like cooking, to kill off any harmful bacteria that may be present, making the food safe for consumption. How Temperature Affects Bacteria Temperature is the biggest factor that affects bacterial growth in perishable food. The key for all foodservice operators is to decrease or eliminate bacterial growth in order to assure maximum shelf life and food safety.

Bacteria multiply rapidly in the danger zone. Bacteria multiply best in a warm, moist environment.

Perishable food that is between the temperatures of 40°F and 140°F provide an ideal environment, and bacteria will multiply at an exponential rate. After two hours in the danger zone, there will be too much bacteria, and the food needs to be thrown out.

Bacterial growth slows in a refrigerator. When perishable food is refrigerated, bacterial growth slows to a crawl, but it does not stop. That's why food still spoils when it's in the refrigerator. Most raw food can only be refrigerated for a couple of days before it spoils, but cooked leftovers will usually keep for about a week.At temperatures below 32°F, bacteria go dormant and do not reproduce. This will not save already-spoiled food, but it will provide a longer shelf life. The only potential problem is freezer burn, which is actually caused by dehydration, but this is a food-quality issue, not a food-safety issue.

Bacteria are killed by high temperatures. Once food approaches 145°F, bacteria will start to die.

Prepared foods like soups and stews need to be kept above 140°F until they are served in order to prevent bacteria from starting to grow again.In order for perishable food to be safe for consumption, it has to reach a USDA-recommended minimum safe internal temperature. The food also has to be held at the specified temperature for a minimum of 15 seconds, so all the bacteria are killed.

The reason for the different food safety temperatures has to do with food density, size and how much it is handled before it is cooked. For example, steak can be cooked to a lower temperature than ground beef because the inner layers of the beef are never touched. Since the outer and inner layers of ground beef are mixed together, a higher temperature is needed to assure that all of the bacteria is dead.

The Two-Hour Rule

The Two-Hour Rule

As mentioned before, if food is kept in the danger zone for too long, there will be too much bacteria, and no amount of cooking will be able to reverse the amount of spoilage caused by the bacteria. The food needs to be thrown out. Furthermore, it is important that managers or kitchen staff check the temperatures of soups, stews or other prepared foods a minimum of every two hours to make sure the food is above 140°F. If the food is too cool, adjust the temperature and check it again in a half-hour.

What Makes Food Unsafe icon

What Makes Food Unsafe?

Hazards can be introduced into foodservice operations in numerous ways: by employees, food, equipment, cleaning supplies and customers. The hazards may be biological (including bacteria and other microorganisms), chemical (including cleaning agents) or physical (including glass chips and metal shavings).

Microbiological hazards (bacteria in particular) are considered the greatest risk to the food industry. Bacteria usually require Food, Acidity, Temperature, Time, Oxygen and Moisture in order to grow. Controlling any or all of these factors can help prevent bacterial growth. Remember "FAT- TOM" and how it relates to food safety.

Temperature and time are the two most controllable factors for preventing foodborne illness. The temperature range between 41°F and 140°F is considered the "danger zone" because these temperatures are very conducive to bacterial growth. Within this range, bacteria grow most rapidly from 60°F to 120°F. When the conditions are right, bacteria double in number every 10 to 30 minutes. For instance, in three hours one bacterium can grow into thousands of bacteria.

Cooking food to safe temperature and cooling food quickly, therefore, are critical steps in the prevention of foodborne illness.

Link Icon