The Danger Zone!

The Danger Zone! What are we referring to when we use the term? We're talking about the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F when bacteria grow most rapidly, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the "Danger Zone."

Bacteria exist everywhere in nature and though it's found everywhere and is vital to the planet's ecosystems, some types of bacteria found in food can cause illness. Here are some safe food handling tips provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Keep Food Out of the "Danger Zone"
Never leave food out of refrigeration for over 2 hours. If the temperature is above 90 °F, food should not be left out for 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.

Cooking
Raw meat and poultry should always be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature. 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 food-borne 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.

Reheating
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.


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