Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) Foods

By. Najih - 29 May 2024


Some types of foods have the ability to support the rapid growth of harmful bacteria without time and/or temperature control; these are known as “time/temperature control for safety (TCS)” foods. The food industry also knows these as Potentially Hazardous Foods (PHF). PHFs or TCSs always require careful handling. These foods must not be held in the Danger Zone for more than 4 hours, to prevent pathogen growth.


These foods are often high in moisture, high protein/ high carbohydrate, and/or low acid. These foods are often called “perishable” foods. Identify time/temperature control for safety foods (TCS) as:

• Any food of animal origin—all meats (red meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, crustaceans, etc.), eggs, milk, and dairy products.

• Any food of plant origin that has been heat treated.

• Certain raw plant foods: raw seed sprouts, cut melons, garlic-in-oil mixtures that are not treated to prevent pathogen growth. These raw plant foods are included because of a history of foodborne illness outbreaks.


Temperature Controls

Using temperature controls minimizes the potential for harmful bacterial growth and toxin formation in TCS food. Temperature controls either keep food entirely out of the danger zone or pass food through the danger zone as quickly as possible.

Receiving: If food temperatures do not meet requirements or if TCS food shows evidence of previous temperature abuse, do not accept the food, or discard the products.

Thawing: Thaw in the refrigerator, under running water or as part of the cooking process, never thaw at room temperature.

Cooking: Cook all TCS food to required temperatures and times.

Hot holding: Maintain hot TCS food at 135°F or above, properly cooked roasts may be held at 130°F or above.

Cooling: TCS food must be cooled from 135°F to 70°F within 2 hours and completely cooled to 41°F or below within 6 hours, TCS food prepared from ingredients at room temperature must be cooled to 41°F or below within 4 hours.

Reheating: Reheat food rapidly, within 2 hours, TCS food made in-house and reheated for hot holding must reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F for 15 seconds.

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