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Safe Food Display

7 April 2023

To ensure safe food display (for hot or cold display), the food must be kept at the correct temperature. The hot food should be kept above 63°C and cold food should be kept below 5°C. Temperatures must be monitored frequently throughout the day. The main point of safe food display  is to keep food outside the danger zone (5°C – 63°C). Bacteria grow best in warm temperatures, approximately 25°C – 40°C.

Keeping records of these checks can form part of a Food Safety Management System and help to establish a company’s due diligence.


Display Units for Safe Food Display

Display units should be:

  • Protected by sneeze guards to prevent contamination.
  • Cleaned and sanitised after each service period.
  • Replenished regularly with small quantities, preventing excess time on display and never overloaded.
  • Buffet foods should be placed on display as near as possible to the service time.


Recommended Safe Temperatures

The following is a general guide to safe temperatures for safe food display (to include processing and storage):

  • Cooking/Reheating – Minimum core temperature of 75°C must be achieved (or maintaining 70°C for 2 minutes).
  • Hot Holding – Minimum core temperature of 63°C or above has to be achieved (temperatures should be checked regularly).
  • Refrigerated Deliveries – Minimum core temperature of 0°C to 5°C has to be maintained.
  • Refrigerating and Cold Holding – Minimum core temperature of 0°C to 5°C has to be maintained.
  • Chilled Display and Cold Stores – Minimum core temperature of 0°C to 5°C has to be maintained.
  • Frozen Deliveries – Minimum core temperature of -18°C should be maintained (frozen deliveries above -15°C should be rejected).
  • Deep Freezing – Minimum core temperature of -18°C should be maintained.


Temperature Measuring Devices

To ensure the food is kept at correct temperatures, a temperature measuring device should be used. There are a number of different temperature measuring devices available for use in the food industry including handheld thermometers and inbuilt thermometers. Temperature measuring devices should be calibrated according to the manufacturer’s instructions and should be checked regularly to make sure they are working correctly.

The most common temperature measuring devise is probe thermometer. This device can accurately measure the temperature of the food. The probe can be inserted into the centre of the food to enable the temperature to be taken. The core temperature should be always be measured in the thickest part of the food. However, it is important to note that probes can be a source of cross-contamination if not cleaned and disinfected appropriately.

All food business operators must have in place procedures for regularly checking that probes are working correctly. This can be done by using special test caps or by first placing the probe in boiling water and checking that it displays 100°C and then placing the probe in slush ice to check it displays 0°C (an error of up to +/- 0.5°C is acceptable on both checks).

Never use mercury thermometers as it would present a contamination risk if it breaks.


Measuring and Recording Temperatures to ensure Safe Food Display

House rules should be followed about how often temperatures should be measured . Food handlers with a responsibility for taking temperatures should be given specific training on how to:

  • Take temperatures using the equipment that is available to them.
  • Recognise and deal with unsafe readings.
  • Keep records of taking temperatures and any corrective actions necessary as a result.


Some additional information about safe food display can be found on FSAI page Temperature Control.


Online Food Safety Training

Please remember – it is a legal requirement that staff who are involved in a food environment are trained and/or supervised commensurate with their work activity!

Myelearnsafety offers fully online Food Safety (HACCP) courses.

To find out more, please check our Courses page.

Alternatively, should you need any additional information, please do not hesitate to let us know via email