What is the 2 hour, 4 hour rule for food safety?

Self-tutoring about food safety: the tutor brings up the 2 hour, 4 hour rule.

During summer, food safety might be apropos, for a couple of reasons:

  1. People often cook food for outdoors, and possibly large batches.
  2. The elevated temperature might cause more rapid spoilage.

One rule I find interesting is the 2 hour, 4 hour rule, which refers to foods that are harmful to consume if they spoil. It focuses on time the food has spent between 5°C and 60°C, and assumes refrigeration temperature < 5°C.

2 hour, 4 hour rule:

  • 0 to 2 hours: safe to use or refrigerate.
  • 2 to 4 hours: safe to use but too late to refrigerate.
  • > 4 hours: discard.



Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

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