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Stand-Up Training: How to Reheat Food Safely

Food worker reheats food in the oven

Empower Employees Through Food Safety Training

When food is reheated, it passes through the temperature danger zone where bacteria multiply fastest. Whenever you reheat food, make sure to use the proper equipment to get it through the danger zone quickly.

Learning Objectives

You may choose to read these learning objectives with your employees as a part of the stand-up training.

After this training, employees will be able to:

  • Explain why it’s important to reheat food properly
  • Identify what equipment can be used to reheat food
  • Identify what temperature reheated food needs to reach

The Facts

You may choose to read these facts with your employees as a part of the stand-up training.

  • When food is reheated, it passes through the temperature danger zone, 41°F–135°F (5°C–57°C). Food must be reheated quickly to prevent bacteria from multiplying to dangerous levels. Generally, that means reheating the food within two hours or less.
  • Use equipment that is capable of reheating food within two hours or less. That generally means using an oven, stove, or microwave.
  • If food will be hot-held, reheat it to 165°F, no matter its original cooking temperature. There are two exceptions to this rule:
  • If food will be served immediately, it can be reheated to any temperature.

Training Activities

Choose the activities that will be most beneficial for your employees. Modify them as needed to fit the training needs of your establishment.

Point it Out

Challenge: Ask for volunteers to participate in a challenge, or ask all employees to participate. Explain that on the count of three, you want them to point to a piece of equipment that can be used to reheat food. After counting to three, look at where your employees are pointing.

Explain: Ask several employees to explain to the group why they pointed where they did. Be ready to add facts to support their choices if necessary.

Discuss: If any employees pointed in the wrong direction, start a group discussion. Ask, “Why don’t we use this equipment to reheat food?”

Check the Temperature

Discuss: What temperature does reheated food need to reach? Make sure workers mention the difference between food that is being reheated for hot-holding and food that will be served immediately.

Demonstrate: Ask an employee to demonstrate how to check the temperature of food, or demonstrate it yourself. You may want to reference facts or use some resources from our stand-up training about taking food temperatures.

Display: Post the Reheating Food Process Poster in your establishment to remind employees how to reheat food safely. If your establishment reheats meat roasts, also post the Cooking and Reheating Roasts Chart.

Following Up

The FDA Food Code advises health inspectors to observe food workers as they prepare food, including reheating leftovers. Specifically, inspectors check that:

  • Employees use the correct equipment to reheat food.
  • Employees take the temperature of food that’s being reheated for hot-holding.
  • You have enough reheating equipment with sufficient capacity to meet your establishment’s needs.

Inspectors might also ask employees to describe the process they follow to reheat food.

You can help employees prepare for your next health inspection by having practice inspections. Observe employees as they reheat food, quiz them about the reheating process on occasion, and offer tips for how they can improve. As needed, review this training with your employees.

Training Resources

Hang up the Reheating Food Process Poster to remind your employees how to reheat food for hot-holding.

The Cooking and Reheating Roasts Chart covers safe times and temperatures for heating roasts.

The Outbreak Caused by School Lunch video gives a real-life example of how improperly reheated food made the students at an elementary school sick. Spanish subtitles are available in the video settings.

Did you use this stand-up training in your establishment? We’d love to get your feedback! Take a minute to do our feedback survey.

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— Jessica Pettit

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