8 tips to properly thaw and hold food

The National Restaurant Association has offered tips to ensure your food maintains its quality and also limit potential for bacterial growth and foodborne illness incidents. This article originally appeared here.

Discover proper methods for thawing and holding food. Here are eight tips:


  1. Refrigeration: Thaw TCS food at 41 ̊Fahrenheit (5 ̊Celsius) or lower to limit pathogen growth. Plan ahead when thawing large items, such as turkeys. They can take several days to defrost.
  1. Microwave oven: You can safely thaw food in a microwave, but only if the food is going to be cooked immediately. Be warned: large items, such as roasts or turkeys, migh not thaw well with this method.
  1. Cooking: Thaw food as part of the cooking process.
  1. Running water: Submerge food under running, drinkable water at 70°Fahrenheit (21°Celsius) or lower.  Never let the temperature of the food go above 41°Fahrenheit (5°Celsius) for longer than four hours.


  1. Hold foods at their correct temperatures. TCS foods should be held at the correct internal temperatures. Cold food should be held at 41°Fahrenheit (5°Celsius) or lower, and hot food should be 135°Fahrenheit (57°Celsius) or higher.
  1. Check temperatures regularly. Timing is essential. Make sure you check food temperatures at least every four hours. Toss  food that’s not 41°Fahrenheit (5°Celsius) or lower, or 135°Fahrenheit (57°Celsius) or higher.
  1. Use food covers and sneeze guards. Keep food covered to help maintain temperatures.  Covers and sneeze guards also help protect the food from contaminants.
  1. Use hot-holding equipment properly. Don’t reheat food in them unless they are built to do so.