The Danger Zone

A food business must, when storing potentially hazardous food, store it under temperature control. Australian & New Zealand Food Standards Code
3.2.2, Division 3, 6.2

The Australian & New Zealand Food Standards Code states that if you are receiving, storing, processing (including defrosting and preparing), cooling, reheating, displaying or transporting potentially hazardous foods then you must be able to prove that you have not exposed the food to this critical “Danger Zone” temperature range for too long.

Food "Danger Zone" Temperature Diagram

Food safety and temperature

5°C to 60°C has been specified as the danger zone for food. This is the range in which micro-biological growth can occur quickly. If food is left too long within this temperature range then potentially deadly micro-organisms can grow and food safety is compromised.

Heating food above 60°C will kill most micro-organisms. It will not, however, remove the toxins that may have been introduced. Cooling food to below 5°C will almost stop the growth of micro-organisms.

What is defined as “potentially hazardous” food?

Any food that may contain food poisoning bacteria are classed as “potentially hazardous”. They include meat, dairy products, seafood, processed fruits and vegetables (including salads), cooked rice and pasta, foods containing eggs, nuts and other protein rich foods, and items that contain these foods (e.g. sandwiches).

A food business must, when transporting food, transport potentially hazardous food under temperature control

Australian & New Zealand Food Standards Code
3.2.2, Division 3, 10b

Time, Temperature, Food & You

Food is always going to be exposed to the danger zone. The critical part is to ensure that this time is kept as short as possible. This has implications for the following:

Receiving food

If receiving hot, cold or frozen food then it must be at the required temperature when you receive it. If it is outside the temperature range then you have no idea how long it has been too warm / cold and it should be rejected.

If it has travelled a short distance and you know it was correctly stored by the sender then it may be acceptable (seek additional advice).

Preparing food

The correct handling of food, clean surfaces, personal hygene, and a clean environment are all prime factors in food safety. Consideration should also be given to how long the food has been exposed to room temperature.

One simple tip is to take small quantities of food out of the fridge at any one time, and replace them as soon as possible.

Cooling food

When cooling food, the standards actually specify the maximum time you can take. The temperature must drop:

  • from 60°C to below 20°C within 2 hours
  • from 20°C to below 5°C within 4 hours

The shape and size of the container will play an important part in this. Avoid large containers if possible. Also flat containers are better than square block shapes. Consider cutting large chunks of meat into smaller chunks.

Also, if the fridge is at 5°C then it is impossible to meet these time frames. The fridge must be cooler than 5°C for the food to drop below 5° on time. Remember you must have a HACCP compliant thermometer (it must have an accuracy of 1°C or better).

The perfect monitoring and auditing tool for food storage is a temperature logger. They are a quick and simple way to ensure that your fridges and freezers are always operational.

Serving food

If food is to be served between 5°C and 60°C (e.g. at room temperature) then warm it up as close to being served as possible.

Have procedures in place that allow you to know when food was brought out.

Download & Print a FREE Information Sheet on Food Safety

To help you keep your food out of the Danger Zone, we have produced a FREE information sheet for you to print out and display in your kitchen or other food handling area.

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Ways to Monitor Temperature

There are a wide range of thermometers including:

  • probe
  • thermometers
  • min/max thermometers
  • infra-red gun thermometers

Every kitchen needs a probe thermometer to monitor temperature inside dishes. Infra-red guns make it very easy to measure external temperatures but don’t necessarily provide an accurate indication of the internal temperature.

A food business must, at food premises where potentially hazardous food is handled, have a temperature measuring device that is readily accessible and can accurately measure the temperature of potentially hazardous food to +/- 1ºC.
Australian & New Zealand Food Standards Code
3.2.2, Division 6, 22

Thermometers should also be kept where ever potentially hazardous foods are stored.

For an automated solution where readings are automatically recorded, consider using temperature loggers. This saves you time and effort, and acts as an independent and reliable auditor.

When buying thermometers or temperature loggers, make sure they are HACCP compliant. This requires that they have an accuracy better than 1°C. If the accuracy is not stated on the packet, then they are not HACCP compliant.

LogTag – Automated Temperature Logging

The LogTag range of Temperature Loggers are perfect for the food and hospitality industry. These inexpensive and highly accurate devices allow for automated logging in a variety of situations, such as in fridges, storage areas, and kitchens.

Temperatrure and humidity can be recorded to the device at set intervals and then uploaded to your computer for easy analysis. The LogTag also has a built-in alarm to alert you to when the temperature reaches a set level.

Which LogTag is right for me?

There are a variety of LogTags avaliable. This guide explains below the features of the most useful devices for the food and hospitality industries. For full details on the range of LogTag Temperature Loggers you can visit the OnSolution website.

When it comes to Food Safety, OnSolution has a range of products including temperature loggers, hand washing training products, spill management, and thermometers. Contact us on 02 9614 6417 for more information.

LogTag Temperature Recorder Logtag temperature recorder – basic model (Model: LT)
Range:
-30°C to 85°C
Resolution: 0.1°C
Samples: 8,000
Indicators: 2 LEDs
– Alert and OKThe Logtag temperature and humidity logger is ideal for applications such as fridges, storage and food transportation areas. This LogTag records the temperature regularly and allows you to upload the data to a computer for checking if the temperature meets the legal requirements.Cost: As low as AU$70.00
LogTag Temperature Logger with Display and Probe Logtag Temperature Recorder with Display and Probe (Model: LOGDISPEX)
Range: -40°C to 99°C
Resolution: 0.1°C
Samples:
7,770Indicators: LCD display with 30 days of alarm indicatorsThe display shows both the current temperature as well as alarm indicators for the last 30 days. This makes it an ideal digital thermometer replacement. This model contains a probe which makes it ideal for measuring temperature inside foodCost: As low as AU$180.00

Have Questions? The OnSolution Experts are here to help!

If you have any questions about food temperature safety or our range of Temperature Loggers for the Food and Hospitality Industries, please email us and we will be able to assist you.

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