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Home > Food from Farm to Table > Food Safety > Minnesota Food Code Fact Sheets > Potentially Hazardous Foods

Potentially Hazardous Foods


Inadequate food temperature controls are the most common factor contributing to outbreaks of food borne disease. Disease causing bacteria grow particularly well in foods high in protein such as meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, cooked vegetables such as beans, and cooked cereal grains such as rice. Because of the high potential for rapid bacterial growth in these foods they are known as "potentially hazardous foods."

Temperature Danger Zone

The temperature range at which bacteria grow best in potentially hazardous foods is between 41F. and 140F. The goal of all temperature controls is to either keep foods entirely out of this "danger zone" or to pass foods through this "danger zone" as quickly as possible.

Temperature Controls

Using temperature controls minimizes the potential for harmful bacterial growth in foods. Controls are used when foods are received, in cold holding, during thawing, in cooking, hot holding, and during cooling and reheating.

Potentially Hazardous Foods Include:

  1. Food from an animal origin that is raw or heat-treated. Some examples are eggs, milk, meat, and poultry.
  2. Food from a plant origin that is heat-treated. Some examples are cooked rice, cooked potatoes, and cooked noodles.
  3. Raw seed sprouts.
  4. Cut melons, including watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew.
  5. Garlic and oil mixtures.
MDA Contact

Dairy & Food Inspection Division
651-201-6027