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Temperature Control and Potentially Hazardous Foods

Below is an extract from a fact sheet provided by Townsville City Council on Temperature Control and Potentially Hazardous Foods under the Food Act 2006 and Food Safety Standards. You can view the full document by clicking here.


Temperature control means maintaining food at a temperature of:

  • 5ºC or below; or
  • 60ºC or above; or
  • another temperature for a period of time that the food business must demonstrate is safe.

Food temperatures outside this range are in the “Temperature Danger Zone”. Within this danger zone food poisoning bacteria rapidly multiply in numbers which may cause illness.


Potentially hazardous food is food that has the potential to cause illness and become unsafe if it is not kept under temperature control. It includes:

  • raw and cooked meats or foods containing raw or cooked meats;
  • dairy products and foods containing dairy products;
  • seafood and foods containing seafood;
  • processed fruits and vegetables;
  • cooked rice and pasta;
  • processed foods containing eggs, beans, nuts or other protein-rich food; and
  • food that contains any of the above foods.

The Standard requires all food businesses which store, transport, prepare, cook or sell potentially hazardous food to have a temperature monitoring device on the premise to monitor temperatures.

You will need a thermometer which can be inserted into the food, i.e. a probe thermometer, and will measure the internal temperature. The thermometer must be accurate to +/- 1ºC. This means that when the thermometer shows that the food is at a temperature of 5ºC, the actual temperature of the food will be between 4ºC and 6ºC. For your ease we recommend a probe thermometer with a digital display. (You can purchase these thermometers directly from CFT QLD's shop)

Before using your thermometer you should ensure that it is effectively cleaned and sanitised. First you should wash your thermometer in warm water with detergent, then appropriately sanitise (alcoholic swabs are often used) and then allow to air dry or dry with a disposable towel before inserting into any food item.

To ensure your thermometer is giving an accurate temperature reading, it should be calibrated on a regular basis in accordance with the manufacturer’s advice. Don’t forget to replace batteries if they are flat and replace
the thermometer if it breaks.

Equipment that is used to store and display food, such as cool rooms, bain maries and sandwich display units may already have a thermometer fixed to the equipment. These thermometers measure the operational
temperature of the unit and they do not measure the actual temperature of the food.