A basic guideline to the time and temperature principle of food safety

A basic guideline to the time and temperature principle of food safety

One of the primary reasons for employees taking ‘sick days’ across the UK is due to contracting foodborne illnesses. The main reasoning behind the contraction of food-related illness is due to eating a food product that was not prepared in adherence to food safety principles, including adequate timing and temperature control principles.

Different foods, depending on how they are prepared or served, require different food safety considerations prior to consumption. Despite the variety of guidelines available, there are several key food consumption guidance laws that can be adhered to, to lessen the chances of eating dangerous bacteria and contracting a foodborne illness.

The temperature danger zone

The safety of food is compromised every time it is heated in the temperature danger zone of 5 – 60 degrees. When heating within these temperatures, bacteria growth is encouraged if the food is not held consistently at one temperature, if it is not cooked internally to the recommended lowest temperature or if it is not reheated or cooled down adequately.

The less time that food spends in the danger zone, the less the chances are of contracting a foodborne illness.


One of the most confusing things about food preparation is the timings required. The basic guideline outlined below provides a general insight on how to control the timing of food preparation safely. Foods being prepared above 60 degrees need to be heated at that temperature for more than 15 seconds. A perfect example of this is when cooking eggs for instant consumption, game meat and fish.

Meats that require heating over 75 degrees Celsius, such as poultry or stuffed meats also must remain at that temperature for over 15 seconds to ensure even heat and that all harmful pathogens are destroyed.

Products used

Any food product that is reheated in a microwave must always be stirred throughout the heating time. Microwaved food should also be covered or in a microwave proof container throughout the heating process.

Cooling food for storage

In order to delay the growth of bacteria in foods, particularly in meat products, is to cool food down as fast as possible.

There are different and varying principles for the safe timings and temperature for every food group. Fortunately, it is easy to train staff in kitchens, chefs or individuals on the safest way to serve food by utilising online food safety programs, such as those provided by Magna Food Health and Safety.