Why are proper temperatures crucial to keep food safe?

Why are proper temperatures crucial to keep food safe?
Published On:February 13, 2023 Revised On:December 28, 2023

Food manufacturing and preparation require temperature control for various reasons, including maintaining quality and, most importantly, ensuring safety. Regulate the temperature to reduce germs that contaminate food and cause illnesses.

Bacteria are killed by heat, while cold temperatures slow their growth to keep them from multiplying to hazardous levels. Consumers should avoid the “Danger Zone” and keep food at the right temperature. Bacteria in food can develop quickly between 4°C and 60°C when left out for more than 2 hours indoors or 1 hour if outside temperatures are above 32°C.

Temperature control in cooking and reheating

Controlling food temperature is essential when reheating food. To avoid wasting food, this is frequently done when food is cooked in excess and has to be warmed and served the following day again. Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C), often referred to as the “danger zone.” Keeping food out of this temperature range helps limit bacterial growth.

Due to food preparation, high amounts of bacteria may be present in raw foods, including meat, fruit, and vegetables. To effectively eliminate the bacteria, food must be properly cooked for at least two minutes at a core temperature of at least 75°C. A probe thermometer is one approach to determine if the meal has been properly cooked. Be careful that the probe thermometer does not contaminate or taint the measured food.

This can be achieved by thoroughly cleaning and sanitising them before using them with prepared foods. Antimicrobial wipes are also safe to use around food. Maintaining the appropriate temperatures for food storage, transport, and preparation is critical for safety and quality. Producers, retailers, and consumers are responsible for handling food carefully to prevent illness and ensure quality products.

Temperature control from chilling

While high temperatures are often used for food temperature control, monitoring food at chilly levels is also important. While bacteria cannot be eliminated by freezing or cooling, their growth is drastically delayed, allowing food products to be stored at low temperatures for several days.

Perishable items must be stored in a refrigerator at no more than 8°C. Food that has been frozen should ideally be maintained at or below -18°C. Using a temperature data logger, monitor and record the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer. A refrigerator must be serviced or replaced if it cannot store food at or below 8°C.

Foods should be cooled down as soon as possible to prevent leaving them in the danger zone for an extended period. Foods should be cooled to below 8°C in less than 90 minutes. Foods like raw or deli meat prepared salads, sliced fruit, juices, milk, cheese, and other dairy products must be stored or displayed between 0°C and 5°C for up to three days before consumption. After that, harmful germs might gradually grow and become a health risk.

Temperature control when holding hot food

Most of the food that is being served to consumers is hot. Controlling the temperature of hot food is crucial because germs can grow in food at the fastest and most harmful rates at high temperatures. Before serving food prepared for the first time, it should be cooked to at least 75°C for two minutes.

When serving meat or grilled fish, checking the internal temperature with a kitchen thermometer is crucial to ensure the product has been cooked through completely. To constantly serve cooked food, such as in a buffet setting, cooked food must be held at a high temperature for extended periods.

This practice is known as “hot holding,” an essential component of temperature management with hot food.  Hot food must be kept at a temperature of 63 °C or higher to prevent the growth of any hazardous bacteria while on display. To keep cooked food hot for an extended time, check the temperature to ensure it hasn’t fallen below 63°C. Food discovered below 63°C is recommended to be consumed within two hours.

Temperature control when cooling food

The approach to cooling food products from one temperature to another is crucial in food temperature control. It’s a common misconception that hot food can be left out until it cools to room temperature and is ready to be placed in the refrigerator or freezer. All hot food should be cooled to below 8°C in less than 90 minutes.

By doing this, bacteria are highly unlikely to grow during this period, leaving the food safe to consume.  It is not recommended to place any warm food items in a refrigerator to try and chill them down quickly because doing so might lead to condensation, which can hasten the deterioration of the product.

Rapid cooling with food can also elevate the fridge’s temperature, which might contaminate other products if bacteria thrive. The best approach to swiftly but safely cool down food is to divide things into smaller amounts so they can cool down quickly, or if the environment is too warm, use ice and cold water.

Importance of Food Thermometers

Food thermometers are essential tools in the kitchen. They ensure that food reaches safe internal temperatures, reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses. Beyond safety, they ensure consistent cooking results. This section discusses food thermometers’ role in food safety and culinary precision.

Reduce risks of food poisoning: Foodborne infections can be avoided. Restaurants can efficiently prevent the growth and spread of bacteria by using a food thermometer. To regularly monitor the internal temperature of meats and poultry, kitchen cooks should use a thermometer. According to USDA standards, restaurants should specify minimum temperature guidelines to ensure the correct cooking methods.

Prevent overcooking food: Overcooking will reduce food’s nutritional value and quality, just as undercooking will be unhealthy. Additionally, overcooked foods are carcinogenic and more difficult for the body to digest. By using digital temperature indicators, restaurants can ensure that food is prepared to the proper temperature.

Food is appealing: There are particular cooking temperatures for different foods, and cooks can use a thermometer to ensure that each item is prepared according to the specific needs of that ingredient. This will ensure that the finished product has a good flavour and texture.


The potential for dangerous bacterial growth is the key factor in the importance of temperature control in the food industry. However, keeping items as fresh or safe as possible is important to avoid food waste.

Even though routinely checking the temperature of products, storage spaces, and equipment may seem time-consuming and unnecessary, doing so helps consumers feel confident that the food purchased will be safe to eat and ensures that businesses maintain high standards in the catering and food line.

Stream Peak supplies essential temperature monitoring tools. Our packaging indicators give immediate visual alerts if temperatures fall outside the designated range, ensuring quick intervention when necessary. Additionally, our data loggers offer detailed and dependable insights for those needing to track temperature fluctuations over longer durations. Feel free to contact us to find out more.