Temperature and time are the prime factors that control the growth of bacteria in food. Many types of pathogens and spoilage bacteria are prevented from multiplying to significant levels that cause foodborne illness with proper temperature holding practices. Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods (aka Potentially Hazardous Food or PHF) foods need to be stored cold at 41°F or below or hot at 135°F or above. If temperature is not being controlled (i.e. the food is being held at room temperature), the time that food spends in the temperature danger zone (41 to 135°F) must be limited to no longer than 4 hours.
Preparation procedures should have built in barriers to limit the time that Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) foods (aka Potentially Hazardous Food or PHF) spend in the temperature danger zone.
Food Prep Best Practices
Control measures to ensure foods are out of temperature control for limited times include:
Refrigerate packaged food items stored at room temperature before preparation, such as canned goods like tuna or beans (for salad preparation, etc.)
Prepare foods not further in advance than necessary
Prepare small batches of food and return them to the refrigerator before cooking and serving