Time/Temperature Control for Food

Time/Temperature Controlled for Safety Food (TCS)
OGA Food Code Training Seminar
March 18, 2009

“Time/temperature controlled for safety food” or “TCS food” means a food that requires time/temperature control for safety to limit pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation.

TCS food includes:

  • An animal food that is raw or heat-treated; a plant food that is heat-treated or consists of raw seed sprouts, cut melons, cut tomatoes or mixtures of cut tomatoes that are not modified in a way so that they are unable to support pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation, or garlic-in-oil mixtures that are not modified in a way so that they are unable to support pathogenic microorganism growth or toxin formation; and
  • Except as specified in paragraph (R)(2)(d) of this rule, a food that because of the interaction of its aw and pH values is designated as product assessment required (PA) in table A or B of this rule.

Table A. Interaction of pH and aw for control of spores in food heat-treated to destroy vegetative cells and subsequently packaged
pH of 4.6 or less     pH greater than 4.6 to 5.6     pH greater than 5.6
aw less than or equal to 0.92     non-TCS food     non-TCS food     non-TCS food
aw greater than 0.92 to 0.95     non-TCS food     non-TCS food     PA
aw greater than 0.95     non-TCS food     PA     PA

Table B. Interaction of pH and aw for control of vegetative cells and spores in food not heat-treated or heat-treated but not packaged
pH less than 4.2     pH 4.2 to 4.6     pH greater than 4.6 to 5.0     pH greater than 5.0
aw less than 0.88     non-TCS food     non-TCS food     non-TCS food     non-TCS food
aw 0.88 to 0.90     non-TCS food     non-TCS food     non-TCS food     PA
aw greater than 0.90 to 0.92     non-TCS food     non-TCS food     PA     PA
aw greater than 0.92     non-TCS food     PA     PA     PA

TCS food does not include:

  • An air-cooled hard-boiled egg with shell intact, or an egg with shell intact that is not hard-boiled, but has been pasteurized to destroy all viable salmonellae;
  • A food in an unopened hermetically sealed container that is commercially processed to achieve and maintain commercial sterility under conditions of non-refrigerated storage and distribution;
    A food that because of its pH or aw value, or interaction of aw and pH values, is designated as a non-TCS food in table A or B of paragraph (R)(1) of this rule;
  • A food that is designated as product assessment required (PA) in table A or B of paragraph (R)(1) of this rule and has undergone a product assessment showing that the growth or toxin formation of pathogenic microorganisms that are reasonably likely to occur in that food is precluded due to:
    • Intrinsic factors including added or natural characteristics of the food such as preservatives, antimicrobials, humectants, acidulants, or nutrients,
    • Extrinsic factors including environmental or operational factors that affect the food such as packaging, modified atmosphere such as reduced oxygen packaging, shelf life and use, or temperature range of storage and use, or
    • A combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors; or
  • A food that does not support the growth or toxin formation of pathogenic microorganisms in accordance with paragraphs (R)(2)(a), (R)(2)(b), (R)(2)(c) or (R)(2)(d) of this rule even though the food may contain pathogenic microorganism or chemical or physical contaminant at a level sufficient to cause illness or injury.

TCS Handout

Ohio Grocer Association
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