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Hot Holding

Validating the hot holding process of food

Studies have shown that when cooked foods reach temperature levels of approx. 55°C, germination starts to occur. The longer cooked foods are kept under these temperatures, the more CFU (colony forming units) can be expected. This is why cooked foods which are stored before being served (e.g. foods in hospitals, schools, catering services, etc.) must have their hot holding process validated.

The hot holding process has several purposes:

  • Avoid the growth of harmful microbes in the food such as Bacillus cereus, which thrive between 30-40°C, but are rendered harmless when food is kept at 55°C.
  • Offering consumers a product avoid of microorganisms which negatively impact the sensory qualities of food such as taste, smell or texture

Results of microbiological studies on food have shown that food such as rice can be kept hot in a thermal transport container for 3 hours, until spores start to form at 60°C. When the food drops under this temperature limit, other pathogens such as bacillus cereus start to grow. Critical germ limits (105 CFU-B / 1g of food) can be formed in this time, potentially leading to food poisoning. Warming foods to at least 65°C is therefore vital in supressing the growth of spores.

The EU has regulations which enforce the proper storage of cooked foods. These rules are outlined in Regulation (EC) No 852/2004. This is based on the application hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), along with Good Hygiene Practices (GHP). In Germany, DIN 10508 offers temperature requirements for foods.

The BfR recommends keeping foods such as rice at a temperature of 65-75°C after cooking, and to serve it within 3 hours of being cooked. This reduces the risk of food poisoning as a result of high bacterial counts.

How does the Tentamus Group help optimize company’s hot holding procedures?

We offer several services which ensure that stored warm foods remain fresh during the storage period:

  • The microbiological examination of food samples according to the self-checking system and to comply with the demands of Reg. (EC) No. 2073/2005: Our labs analyse your food products to check the elimination of pathogens through the heat chain to verify the effectiveness of the process.
  • Audits & Hygiene Testing: Our experts audit your company to review compliance of the hot holding process, helping you with the implementation of the HACCP system required by the 852/2004 Regulation.


Do you wish to optimize your hot holding procedures, or do you require more information on this? Get in touch with our contact:

Maria Tienza-Velasco


+49 162 230 26 39

Tentamus laboratories in your vicinity