Cooling Potentially Hazardous Foods - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Cooling Potentially Hazardous Foods
Safe Food is Good Business

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Spanish Version: Enfriamiento de alimentos potencialmente peligrosos

Improper cooling of potentially hazardous foods is the number one cause of foodborne illness. Disease causing bacteria grow best in the "temperature danger zone" of 41° F. to 140° F. When potentially hazardous foods are improperly cooled, it provides an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply.

Potentially hazardous foods must be cooled from 140° F. to 70° F. within two hours. An additional four hours is allowed to completely cool the food product to 41° F. The faster foods pass through the "temperature danger zone" as they are cooled, the better.

Cooling Tips

  • Never allow food to set on the countertop (room temperature) to cool.
  • Refrigerate or chill the food in an ice bath immediately upon removal from the heat source.
  • Use the right type of storage container to chill foods:
    • Divide foods into smaller portions and put into shallow containers.
    • Metal containers chill foods fastest.
    • Glass and plastic containers take longer to cool foods.
  • Allow for air circulation because loosely covered or uncovered foods chill faster. Rapidly chill the food, then cover tightly.
  • Where possible, substitute ice for water in a recipe. Add the ice at the end of the cooking process to cool the product rapidly.
  • Set containers of food in ice baths and stir frequently.
  • Use blast chillers when possible.
Updated Tuesday, April 30, 2013 at 04:34PM