Danger Zone for Food : Avoiding Foodborne Illness

The danger zone is a temperature range between 40°F and 140°F in which bacteria and other microorganisms are able to grow at rate that can cause foodborne illness.

I really wanted to write an article to touch more on this since it seemed to be one of the most impactful posts so far.

Food Safety is probably one of the most important parts of cooking, it assist with preserving your food, cooking and storing your food safely.

Also no one likes food poisoning….So lets make sure you are keeping yourself and your food safe.

Keeping Clean in the Kitchen

Lets follow a few basic steps to keep yourself and your kitchen clean. A clean surface and clean hands help you prevent the transfer of bacteria and reduce the risks of cross-contamination.

  1. Wash your hands for 30 seconds under warm to hot water.
  2. Wipe down your area with soap and a sponge.
  3. Always use a fresh cutting board and knife.

If you do those 3 things you reduce the risk of starting with a surface that can transfer bacteria.

What is Foodborne Illness?

I really wanted to touch on foodborne illness since that is exactly what we are trying to avoid here.

Foodborne illness is sickness caused by food that has been contaminated by bacteria, toxins, parasites or viruses.

Most common is food poisoning, Most of us have had it at one point in our life. Its the 24hr sickness!

There are severe cases of transferring and we will cover ways to reduce more serious contamination, but the majority of illness is caused by bacterial growth that leads to symptoms of diarrhea and vomitting.

Avoiding Cross-Contamination

Cross-Contamination is the process by which bacteria or other microorganisms are unintentionally transferred from one substance or object to another, with harmful effect.

You can more often than not avoid this issue by following these steps:

  1. Wash your hands between handling different food products.
  2. Use a new cutting board when switching between vegetables and meat, or between different meats.
  3. Wash your knife when you would wash your cutting board.

You also need to be careful of storing your food in the fridge because placement of food in the fridge can also lead to issues. Here are some tips to avoid this from happening.

  1. Your food should be stored in your fridge below 40°F to avoid remaining in the danger zone for too long.
  2. Your raw food should be stored below your cooked food.
  3. Meat should also be stored below your vegetables to avoid leakage and in return contamination.

Proper Food Temperatures

Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Ground Meats160 °F (71.1 °C)
Uncooked Ham145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Fully-Cooked HamReheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F (60 °C) and all others to 165 °F (73.9 °C).
Poultry165 °F (73.9 °C)
Eggs160 °F (71.1 °C)
Fish & Shellfish145 °F (62.8 °C)
Leftovers165 °F (73.9 °C)
Casseroles165 °F (73.9 °C)

What temperature should my fridge be at?

Your Fridge Should be set below 40°F as per the danger zone rules.

What temperature should my freezer be at?

Your freezer should be set below 0°F to avoid bacterial growth.

How do I cool hot food?

Always transfer your food to shallow dishes and allow to cool in your refrigerator.

The shallow dishes allow the food to cool evenly.

The right way to heat up food!

You want to transfer your food to your stovetop pan, oven or microwave or even air fryer.

Your method of reheating is completely your own but they will all do.

The most important part of reheating your food is making sure that it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

Once you reheat your food you cannot store it again. Twice reheated is not good the third time.

Danger Zone: 2-4 Hour Rule.

It takes time for bacteria to grow to an unsafe level and this rule helps us determine when freshly prepared food should be stored, eaten or thrown away.

Your food can remain in the danger zone of 40°F and 140°F for 2 hours and be stored below 40°F safely.

Between 2 and 4 hours, the food must be eaten.

After 4 hours, throw the food away as the bacteria has grown to dangerous levels.

How to label your food!

Your labeling should include:

  1. Name of Food
  2. Date Made
  3. Expiration Date

Products to help you be safe:

This post may contain Affiliate Links, purchasing through my links means I get a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you!

Food Thermometer

Other articles you might find helpful.

Meal Preparation Storage!

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