Temperature control - 2 to 4 hour guide

All food businesses in the Northern Territory (NT) must meet requirements and standards for keeping potentially hazardous food at safe temperatures.

Potentially hazardous foods

Potentially hazardous foods include all of the following:

  • foods containing raw and cooked meats including casseroles, pies and sandwiches
  • dairy products and processed foods containing eggs, beans and nuts
  • seafood
  • processed fruits and salads such as prepared salads and ready to eat fruit packs
  • cooked rice and pasta.

The two hour / four hour guide

Ready-to-eat foods potentially hazardous foods can safely remain between 5 degrees Celsius and 60 degrees Celsius for less than four hours.

This is because it takes more than four hours for food-poisoning bacteria to grow to dangerous levels.

The two hour / four hour guide only applies to ready-to-eat potentially hazardous foods and the time refers to the life of the food, including preparation and cooling, not just to display times.

Total time limit between 5°C and 60°CWhat you should do
Less than two hours Refrigerate or use immediately
Between two hours and four hours OK to use immediately
More than four hours Throw out

You must document how long food is kept out of temperature control.

For more information contact Environmental Health.

Last updated: 13 October 2017