• Home
    Home We Serve America's Restaurants Representing nearly 500,000 restaurant businesses, we advocate for restaurant and foodservice industry interests and provide tools and systems that help members of all sizes achieve success.
  • Foundation
    Foundation Building & Retaining Talent The NRAEF is focused on developing a stronger workforce and building the next generation of industry leaders through education, scholarships and community engagement.
  • Show
    Show May 18-21, 2019 As the international foodservice marketplace, the National Restaurant Association Show provides unparalleled opportunities for buyers and sellers to come together, conduct business and learn from each other.
  • ServSafe
    ServSafe Minimize Risk. Maximize Protection. For over 40 years, ServSafe® training programs have delivered the knowledge, leadership and protection that have earned the trust and confidence of business leaders everywhere.

National Restaurant Association - Recognizing TCS food

Skip to navigation Skip to content

Manage My Restaurant

Recognizing TCS food

When working to prevent foodborne illness, it’s important to recognize that some food items are more likely than others to become unsafe. Those items are known as TCS food. TCS food requires time and temperature controls to prevent the growth of microorganisms and the production of toxins. This food contains moisture and protein and has a neutral or slightly acidic pH.

Most bacteria need nutrients such as carbohydrates or proteins to survive. Also, bacteria grow best in food that contains little or no acid. Measuring acidity, the pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A value of 0 is highly acidic, while a value of 14 is highly alkaline. A value of 7 is neutral. TCS food items generally have a pH of 7.5 to 4.6.

Bacteria need time to grow and grow rapidly when being held between 41˚F and 135˚F, also known as the temperature danger zone. The more time bacteria spend in this zone, the more opportunity they have to grow to unsafe levels. Be sure to keep an eye on your time and temperature control when preparing these food items.

Related content

Cooking TCS food

Cooling food correctly

Learn the definition of TCS and FDA recommended cooking temperatures. 
What’s the right temperature?
Avoid temperature danger zones by reading these guidelines. 
Stay in the safe zone

For more information on TCS food, check out our ServSafe training programs.


▲ Back to Top

Goodness, Made Juicy

Juicy Juice

Food & Nutrition Solutions

Food & Nutrition Solutions


We're glad you're here!®

® 2012-2017 National Restaurant Association. All rights reserved.

2055 L St. NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20036
(202) 331-5900 | (800) 424-5156