Posted on

Keep Food Out of the Danger Zone

Danger Zone (40 °F – 140 °F)

Leaving food out too long at room temperature can cause bacteria (such as Staphylococcus aureusSalmonella Enteritidis, Escherichia coli, and Campylobacter) to grow to dangerous levels that can cause illness. Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the “Danger Zone.”

Keep Food Out of the Danger Zone

Never leave food out of refrigeration over 2 hours. If the temperature is above 90 °F, food should not be left out more than 1 hour.

  • Keep hot food hot—at or above 140 °F. Place cooked food in chafing dishes, preheated steam tables, warming trays, and/or slow cookers.
  • Keep cold food cold—at or below 40 °F. Place food in containers on ice.


Raw meat and poultry should always be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature (see graphic). When roasting meat and poultry, use an oven temperature no lower than 325 °F.

If you aren’t going to serve hot food right away, it’s important to keep it at 140 °F or above.

Storing Leftovers

One of the most common causes of foodborne illness is improper cooling of cooked foods. Bacteria can be reintroduced to food after it is safely cooked. For this reason, leftovers must be put in shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerated at 40 °F or below within two hours.


Foods should be reheated thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 °F or until hot and steaming. In the microwave oven, cover food and rotate so it heats evenly.

Danger Zone graphic

8 thoughts on “Keep Food Out of the Danger Zone

  1. I didn’t know how dangerous good could get so quickly. Thanks for the tips.

    1. It doesn’t take long before things can go wrong if you don’t watch it. Everyone should be aware of this.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I always wondered how long it takes for bacteria to begin growing at room temperature…great info all in one place, and a caution people should take seriously!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by my site.
      It is important to keep all your food at the proper temperature during the cooking process. There is that danger zone that must be avoided. It is best to ice your food or use some cooling method to drive the temps down quickly thru the zone to the safe zone.
      This is definitely something to keep in mind when not only cooking but also when you go to a large picnic or group gatherings. Sometimes that food sits for hours before someone checks it, if they check it at all.

  3. Wonderful tips on food safety. I was never really conscious when it comes to taking things out of the refrigerator and never it sit for few hours. I didn’t bacteria can grow. Thank you for all the tips!

    1. I was hoping this post would allow some people to see the importance of food safety.
      Always want to be careful when going to dinner where a large group of people are gathered. Sometimes that food sits out on a table uncovered and in the danger zone for hours with flies and other insects that may help themselves. It doesn’t take long for some bad bacteria to start growing.

  4. This is great information. My son has a very sensitive stomach, so I do have to be careful with cooking foods and storing them. It is interesting to see that the temperature should be below 40 degrees when storing in the refrigerator, or above 140. I do not have a thermometer that I can use, but I am certainly going to get one. That way I can make sure I don’t get my sons stomach upset. Great information, thank you!

    1. It is always my pleasure to be of service to others, glad you learned something from my post.
      If you look on my site, I have plenty of thermometers that I recommend and there are plenty out there that will work just fine. Always be careful not to eat food that has been in that danger zone for an extended period of time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *