Danger zone (food safety)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The danger zone is the temperature range in which food-borne bacteria can grow. Food safety agencies, such as the United States' Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), define the danger zone as roughly 40 to 140 °F (4 to 60 °C).[1][2][3] The FSIS stipulates that potentially hazardous food should not be stored at temperatures in this range in order to prevent foodborne illness (for example, a refrigerator's temperature must be kept below 4 °C (40 °F)[4]), and that food that remains in this zone for more than two hours should not be consumed.[5] Foodborne microorganisms grow much faster in the middle of the zone, at temperatures between 21 and 47 °C (70 and 117 °F).[6] In the UK and NI, the Danger Zone is defined as 8 °C - 63 °C [7]

Food-borne bacteria, in large enough numbers, may cause food poisoning, symptoms similar to gastroenteritis or "stomach flu" (a misnomer, as true influenza primarily affects the respiratory system). Some of the symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.[8] Food-borne illness becomes more dangerous in certain populations, such as people with weakened immune systems, young children, the elderly, and pregnant women.[8] In Canada, there are approximately 4 million cases of food-borne disease per year.[9] These symptoms can begin as early as shortly after and as late as weeks after consumption of the contaminated food.[10]

Time and temperature control plays a critical role in food safety. To prevent time-temperature abuse, the amount of time food spends in the danger zone must be minimized.[11] A logarithmic relationship exists between microbial cell death and temperature, that is, a small decrease of cooking temperature can result in considerable numbers of cells surviving the process.[12] In addition to reducing the time spent in the danger zone, foods should be moved through the danger zone as few times as possible when reheating or cooling.[13]

Foods that are potentially hazardous inside the danger zone:[14]

  • Meat: beef, poultry, pork, seafood
  • Eggs and other protein-rich foods
  • Dairy products
  • Cut or peeled fresh produce
  • Cooked vegetables, beans, rice, pasta
  • Sauces, such as gravy
  • Sprouts
  • Any foods containing the above, e.g. casseroles, salads, quiches

According to Bryan (2004), a more complex, but more comprehensive picture of food safety hazards can be given by full consideration of the many factors involved. He advocates seeing the danger zone as "a series of ranges that represent different degrees of hazards and risks." He presents the danger zone in a chart of time versus temperature as having a zone of high danger in which foods are at temperatures between 30C and 45C for several hours, surrounded by two zones of lesser danger involving exposure at lower temperatures for longer periods of time.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Danger Zone (40 °F - 140 °F ) | Food Safety and Inspection Service". Fsis.usda.gov. 2017-06-28. Retrieved 2020-03-20.
  2. ^ "Food Safety Tips for Barbecuing - Health Canada". Hc-sc.gc.ca. 2011-05-17. Archived from the original on 2013-05-22. Retrieved 2013-05-13.
  3. ^ "Victorian Government Health Information". Archived from the original on 2012-06-17.
  4. ^ "Refrigerator Thermometers: Cold Facts about Food Safety". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2013-11-01. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  5. ^ "Refrigeration and Food Safety". USDA. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  6. ^ Myhrvold, Nathan. "Modernist cuisine". The cooking lab. p. 177. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  7. ^ "What are 'scores on the doors'? – Knowledge".
  8. ^ a b Food Safety Facts. (n.d). The Canadian Press
  9. ^ "Yearly food-borne illness estimates for Canada". Government of Canada. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  10. ^ Food Safety Facts. (n.d). Canadian Press, The,
  11. ^ "Customer Care and Help:ServSafe Food Safety Course Content". Archived from the original on December 25, 2010. Retrieved May 2, 2011.
  12. ^ Stephen Forsythe (2010). The Microbiology of Safe Food. Blackwell Publishing Limited. p. 320. ISBN 978-1-4051-4005-8. Retrieved Apr 8, 2013.
  13. ^ Hernandez, J. (2000). Food safety: to keep food safe, stay out of the danger zone. Restaurant Hospitality, 84(6), 104-110.
  14. ^ "Factsheet - the temperature danger zone" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2016-04-18. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  15. ^ "The "Danger Zone" Reevaluated". Food Safety Magazine. 2012-12-06. Retrieved 2020-04-21.