Keeping Hot Foods Hot: Focusing on Food Safety


Have you ever met a customer who was happy with a lukewarm meal? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Keeping hot food hot is directly related to customer happiness, but it is more importantly related to food safety.

Holding prepared foods at a consistent temperature over time will maintain the quality, flavor and the food’s safe edibility. Keeping hot foods hot minimizes the opportunity for harmful bacteria to multiply, which substantially lowers the chance of a food borne illness.

Keeping Hot Foods Hot

Keeping hot foods hot is easy to do if you follow a few simple tips. Get in the habit of performing these tasks and you will see your worries about food borne illness go down substantially.

  • Stir foods and keep them covered to help evenly distribute the heat.
  • Always double check temperatures with a meat thermometer. Keep food temperatures above 140°F and out of the danger zone.
  • Throw away food if it sits at a temperature below 140 °F for two hours or more. Chances are the food has become a breeding ground for bacteria.
  • Prepare and cook only as much food as needed  to minimize the amount of leftovers that could potentially go bad.

Commercial Hot Holding Equipment

There are several different types of equipment that meet HACCP regulations for hot-holding. Any equipment used for holding hot foods needs to be preheated before any food is placed on it. If you place food on hot-holding equipment before it is fully preheated, you run the risk of your food cooling to an unsafe temperature. The idea here is to stay out of the danger zone.

There are several types of foodservice businesses and each requires certain types of hot-holding equipment.

Convenience Stores & Self-Serve

In a convenience-store or self-serve environment, merchandising cabinets, drawer warmers, and overhead warmers get the most use when it comes to hot-holding equipment.

Restaurants & Delis

Restaurants and delis benefit from round warmers in the front of the house and holding cabinets in the kitchen.

Buffets, Hotels & Cafeterias

Buffets, hotels, and cafeterias and may make use of hot holding equipment like chafing dishes and countertop warmers.


Caterers capitalize on keeping foods prepared and safe for immediate consumption. Food carriers and portable food bars are ideal for transporting and holding foods safely.


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