Which Food Is Considered A TCS Food?

Time or temperature control, TCS, is a vital requirement nowadays for proper storage and safety of food items. We deal with a lot of different kinds of foods. Dry foods, instant food, fermented foods, perishable foods etc. Different kinds of foods require different storage techniques. The big factories where these food products are stored need to know the proper requirement for storing these kinds of food that are perishable in nature in order to avoid wastage of food.

Food wastage is one of the main concerns in today’s world. Tons of food are being wasted in a day and many of them due to spoilage of food by lack of proper storage system. Restaurants and all types of food storing entities should understand the concept of TCS and stop this kind of spoilage and wastage of food.

Different foods have different properties, therefore their storing patterns differ from each other. Foods spoil under unattended temperature and time, which the TCS system clarifies. TCS foods are also known as Potentially hazardous food products. As they can easily spoil and cause wastage if not kept in for proper temperature in proper time.

The microorganisms in the food act towards this spoilage, whether there are a lot of microorganisms in a food or there are very less of it in other foods. All the factors need to be considered while storing such kinds of foods. Before starting a big organization of food supply or storage, the information regarding TCS is mandatory.

As it will help one understand what product falls under TCS and what doesn’t, and also different processes to stop spoilage and foodborne illness.

What Does TCS Mean?

The very important thing is to know what is the full form of TCS. TCS refers to “time or temperature control for safety.” Foods which are potentially hazardous may contain more moisture, protein and be slightly acidic ( 4.6 and 7.5 PH approximately).

Therefore they should be taken care of by regulating proper time and temperature. Food which generally gets spoiled faster than other foods falls under the category of TCS foods.

Thus the understanding is, they are the foods that are drastically affected by time and temperature and which can easily get spoiled if not kept in proper conditions. It is mandatory for the people working in large good factories or storing food, to understand this concept in order to stop food wastage and foodborne diseases.

While dealing with it, the food handlers should always keep in mind about dangerous temperature zones. This zone is where the food gets spoiled and microorganisms develop.

TCS foods are different from ready to eat food. Ready to eat foods like cookies, canned food, etc. Don’t require special temperatures to be stored in and can be stored for a very long time. Ready to eat food doesn’t need any kind of preparation like cooking etc.

Whereas, TCS foods contain moisture and different acidic levels, which needs to be given proper storage facilities or else they will spoil and cause foodborne diseases.

What Are Some Of The Common TCS Foods?

Some of the common TCS foods include; dairy products, Meat products especially the raw ones, cut fruits, green vegetables, cooked rice products, potatoes which are baked or mashed or boiled, sprouts, fish, poultry, eggs, also salads which are prepared, mayonnaise, pastries, pies, cooked onions, sliced melons, tomatoes after they are cut, cheese like cream cheese and ricotta and cottage cheese, pies with toppings, tofu, soya, beans, cheesecake, yogurt, coleslaw , etc are some of the common foods that fall under the category of TCS foods.

Thus these are the examples of TCS food. These foods contain protein and they have an acidic pH which gives a good condition for the growth of microorganisms like bacteria. Once any of the above mentioned food is put in an unfavourable environment, such will lead to spoilage and will end up being wasted or cause foodborne diseases.

Bread not a TCS food because it is low acidity low moisture and can go for longer time without spoilage, similarly packaged powdered milk, dried foods, candy, sodas, popcorn, dry cereals packets, uncooked rice, pickled foods, pasta uncooked, jams, lemonade, hard boiled eggs with shell, etc. Are some of the foods that are not TCS foods and are prone to spoilage and don’t entirely depend on temperature and time. Still these products need to be handled properly for preventing any kind of possible spoilage.

How To Take Proper Care Of TCS Foods?

The foremost way to handle TCS food is by controlling proper time and temperature.

Temperature Danger Zone

There are certain temperature constraints that need to be kept in mind while storing the TCS food. The dangerous temperature to store food is around 40 degree Fahrenheit to 140 degree Fahrenheit. This dangerous temperature will cause rapid growth of microorganisms and will lead to the spoilage of food. TCS food should not be kept for more than 2 hours in the dangerous temperature zone. All contamination free methods should be practiced.

Warming The Food

Some foods are stored in dried cold temperatures, and for consumption they need to be reheated to a proper temperature, an approximate of 74°C.

Why Is Reheating Necessary?

While stored in cold temperatures, food can still get contaminated by different microorganisms that need to be eliminated in order to prevent foodborne diseases. For reheating you need to have a proper temperature and container that will help the heat to distribute evenly within the food.

Cooling The Food

There is a two stage cooling process, there is cooling of food first for 2 hours and then for 4 hours. In the first 2 hours after cooking the food it shall be cooled from 57°C to 21°C. Then in the next four hours the food shall be cooled from 21°C to 4°C.

All these cooling processes shall be done at a particular time frame to avoid any spoilage and the total time must not be more than 6 hours.

Food can also be cooled by giving it an ice bath by putting the container over an ice container. There are other acceptable methods like ice paddles, adding ice as an ingredient or blast or tumble chiller.

How Does The Cooling Process Help?

Cooling process helps in slowing down the bacterial growth in the food. Proper cooling of food is required. All the food has different parameters to be stored that should be kept in mind and different categories of food should be kept in different clean containers free from contamination.

Thawing The Food

This process needs to be done fast. This process includes the melting of cold frozen food. Once the frozen foods are melted, the existing pathogens will activate and start spoiling the food. For a safe process of thawing, transfer overnight the frozen food to the storage with a 4°c temperature, then use a microwave to defrost the food.

Once your food is defrosted, set your cooking temperature at low and then proceed. All this temperature requirement is very necessary or else the food will spoil.

Cold Holding

TCS foods that are cold, the ideal temperature in which they should be held is 40°F or below.

Hot Holding

135°F is the ideal temperature for hot holding TCS foods.

Thorough Cooking

The TCS food needs to be thoroughly cooked by monitoring the cooking temperature from time to time. Different foods have different temples that need to be reached to make them non hazardous and it can be achieved by proper cooking process with ideal temperature and time. The TCS raw ingredients should be immediately cooked because they can get spoiled at a 4 hour window if the temperature is not controlled.

Constant Temperature

If the place where you are storing the TCS food has a fluctuating temperature setting then it can spoil the food. Minimum temperature should be maintained constantly to avoid any kind of spoilage. Temperature settings should be regulated properly. You should have an effective food safety management system.

Date Marking

All the TCS foods that are made in any factory or establishment shall be date marked. If the food that has been made is needed to be used on a 24 hours time frame then it shall be properly date marked. TCS food can be best utilised for 7 days and beyond that the food should not be consumed.

What Is The Requirement To Understand The TCS Food System?

When you start a big organization or factory to make and store food, different factors need to be taken into account. The foremost thing that the knowledge of TCS can avoid is wastage of food and foodborne diseases. Following are the reasons to have the knowledge about TCS food and storage methods:-

Prevent Foodborne Diseases Or Outbreak

The foremost thing a food factory needs to keep in mind is that the food stored should not get contaminated. TCS will help in such a situation by giving the proper time and temperature for storing the food. TCS foods are hazardous in nature and may get spoiled easily and this kind of spoilage sometimes is not visible to the human eye and then it may lead to diseases if consumed.

Prevent Wastage Of Food

A TCS food is said to be spoiled if they produce foul smell, slimy texture, moulds , acidic taste etc. Once all of these are visible then the food is said to be spoiled. Big factories and organisations which face such an issue will be wasting tons of food. So in order to avoid this, proper storing techniques should be understood and be maintained.

Promote Sustainability

There are people around the world that are deprived of food, also if the wastage of food continues at this rate then there will be a lot of scarcity of resources. Therefore by following the TCS methods we are approaching sustainable development by reducing food wastage and foodborne diseases. Properly storing different kinds of food raw, cooked, we can ensure that the people are fed properly.

Avoid Loss At Business

If you are a part of a business then if such spoilage occurs then a lot of financial loss will be faced by you. TCS foods are hazardous and need to be stored in a proper temperature for a proper time and this understanding by food handlers will be a benefit to them in the working of their business and will help them prevent any kind of loss due to spoilage.

If your food is good then your customers will be happy with your products and have confidence over your products. This will help you gain recognition and will help in the growth of your business.


Thus there are different kinds of food ranging from packed foods which can be consumed even after storing for a long time like biscuits, chocolates , dried food products etc. Then comes the food that can be easily spoiled easily and are also hazardous to health if consumed if they are spoiled.

The big factories where these food products are stored need to know the proper requirement for storing these kinds of food that are perishable in nature in order to avoid wastage of food. There are various ways to store these foods and they need to be followed properly because even after proper precautions TCS can easily get spoiled.

Before starting a big organization of food supply or storage, the information regarding TCS is mandatory. As it will help one understand what product falls under TCS and what doesn’t, and also different processes to stop spoilage and foodborne illness. Awareness in the subject of TCS is mandatory for the food handlers and also the consumers to avoid any kind of hazardous effect. With the growing food requirements, wastage is not an option anymore and these proper storage systems will help us curve the wastage.

Restaurants and all types of food storing entities should understand the concept of TCS and stop this kind of spoilage and wastage of food.


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