food temperature chart | 6 mins read

Food Temperature Chart- Why it's Important and How it can be Implemented

food temperature chart why its important and how it can be implemented 1646811767 2703
Sanchari Chatterjee

By Sanchari Chatterjee

What is a Food Temperature Chart?

When you are cooking different kinds of food items such as meat, fish, eggs dishes or bakery goods, each of them will require different preparation methods. While meat needs to be cooked at high temperatures for it to be well done and edible, free of harmful bacteria, bakery items need a different temperature level. This is where a food temperature chart comes in handy. The chart acts as a guide for all the cooking temperature requirements of each food item so that you don't have to do guesswork during the process.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has come up with a pre-defined internal temperature and minimum temperature chart to act as a guide for any kind of cooking activity, be it commercial or domestic. The food temperature chart lists the various cooking temperatures that should be reached during the different stages of cooking.

Why is a Food Temperature Chart Central to a Restaurant Kitchen?

Restaurants and food service businesses need to make sure their food is safe. As you might expect, this means they have to pay attention to a few key aspects when it comes to the cooking and preparation stages. One of these aspects is the temperatures at which the food is being cooked. During the cooking stages, chefs must maintain a level of heat in the kitchen that prevents bacteria from growing while also keeping the quality of the food intact over time.

What's more, by knowing how hot the grill or oven should be for your dish, you can know exactly how long you have before it's done cooking. This is why many restaurants have one or more temperature charts on hand -- so chefs and staff can keep track throughout their shifts.

Maintaining uniform cooking temperatures for each food item across shifts is also crucial for restaurants to maintain uniform food quality and taste. Food temperature charts are also used to maintain this uniformity across the board, irrespective of who is behind the kitchen.

  • According to the federal agencies, there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses reported annually in the United States.
  • Every year, an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations are reported due to these diseases while another 3,000 deaths are reported annually.

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Ideal Food Cooking Temperatures

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The U.S. FDA has recommended a set of minimum food safety temperatures for cooking all kinds of food items such as beef, pork, lamb, ground meat, poultry or egg dishes etc. These are-

All internal temperatures are in Fahrenheit as measured using food thermometers.

Beef, pork, veal and lamb (chops, roasts and steaks)145 degrees F with a 3 minute resting time
Ground meat160 degrees F
Ham (uncooked)
Ham (fully cooked)
145 degrees F with a 3 minute resting time
140 degrees F
Poultry 165 degrees F
Egg dishes160 degrees F
Shrimp, lobster and crabsFlesh pearly and opaque
Leftovers and casseroles165 degrees F

Eyeballing the colour and texture of the food items during the cooking process are not the most accurate and reliable indicators of food safety. Thus, FDA has specified these cooking temperatures for each item that can be only measured using food thermometers.

Ideal Food Internal Temperature for Storage

Apart from the cooking temperature requirements, Food Safety is also determined by how the food is stored and refrigerated. Even you follow the ideal internal temperatures during the cooking process but end up leaving the hot food out in the open for long hours, you may end up contaminating the food with harmful bacteria. Thus, the food safety guidelines also specify a set of norms to follow for the storage and handling of food products.

  1. The FDA says ideally, meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and other perishables should be refrigerated within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing. The time gap reduces further to 1 hour if the outside temperature is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. A refrigerator used to store perishable food products must maintain temperatures below 40 degrees F consistently. The freezer temperature should be below 0 degrees F. Use appliance thermometers to make sure this temperature level is not breached.
  3. Never thaw cold foods at room temperature by leaving them on the countertop. Use the refrigerator if it is to be cooked later, and use cold water or microwave when cooking immediately.

How Can Software Maintain Food Internal Temperatures?

  • Software systems such as Zip HACCP not only measure food temperatures with their Bluetooth food thermometer, they also create Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)-compliant temperature logs for further reference.
  • Meat Temperature is measured and recorded according to the type of meat that is being cooked. If a customer asks for a medium rare, medium well or well done steak, you can enter the requirement on the software system and the food thermometer will keep track of the progress and alert you as soon as it is cooked.
  • The food thermometers that are part of a larger HACCP system measure both internal temperature as well as ambient temperature during the cooking process.
  • With the wireless system, chefs and kitchen assistants no longer need to stand in front of the oven throughout the cooking process and can just keep an eye on the mobile app in which the food thermometer will keep sending real-time updates of the progress.
  • Moreover, the software system will also keep all historical records of the operations of your restaurant kitchen and also make sure you are compliant with the HACCP norms as mandated by the authorities.
  • Whenever there is a violation from your pre-determined HACCP plan, the system will send you alerts so that you can take corrective actions to make it right.

Online employee scheduling software that makes shift planning effortless.
Try it free for 14 days.

Top 3 Food Temperature Monitoring Systems for Restaurants

1. Zip Temperature- With its range of software solutions, Zip Temperature will not just monitor your food temperatures and cooking temperatures in real-time, it will also help you with performance analysis, food safety compliance, customer satisfaction and also optimize expenses. Zip Temperature is a food temperature monitoring system that is a part of the Zip HACCP solution, which helps users stay ahead of the HACCP rules. The system will send out alerts and reminders as per the HACCP plan and keep track of all the critical limits and control points that you need to keep in mind while operating the kitchen.

2. Monnit- From checking cooking temperatures to food storage units and also serving temperatures, the Monnit system does it all. The Monnit system has sensors and food thermometers that help you monitor your food temperatures from any location. The Monnit system is easy to set up and works with 80 different sensor types. Apart from all these, you can also choose to fast-track your HACCP compliance needs with the software.

3. Tek-Troniks- This is a real-time temperature monitoring system designed for food services, food retail units and also cold chains. With the wide range of wireless sensors offered by the monitoring system, managers can keep track of all kitchen appliances, cooking processes, freezers, cold rooms etc with the same accuracy. The multi-level alarm thresholds send out customized temperature alerts to the user to take corrective actions in case of any deviation from the plan.

Food Safety FAQs

Q1- Why is it important to use a food thermometer?
A- Food thermometers are the only way you can measure the internal temperature of food items while they are being cooked in the grill or oven. While it is humanly not possible to gauge the exact temperature by looking at the grill from outside, it is also very important to make sure the ideal cooking temperatures are being used and not risk the health of consumers. Thus, food thermometers are important for every small and large kitchen.

Q2. Who all are more prone to foodborne illnesses?
A- Children, older people and those suffering from terminal illnesses and autoimmune diseases are more prone and vulnerable to catch foodborne illnesses. Uncooked or contaminated food are a no-go for these vulnerable sections of the population.

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