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Durham Restaurants to Prepare for the NC Food Code Cold Holding Temperature Changes from 45 to 41 Degrees

Temperature adjustment from 45 to 41 degrees will ensure safety of cooling and consumption

Post Date:12/12/2018 10:29 AM

DURHAM, N.C. –  Effective January 1, 2019, all Durham County restaurants, caterers, and food truck operators must follow the NC Food Code and adjust their refrigerator temperature settings to ensure foods are held at 41 degrees or lower (Fahrenheit).  Harmful bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes can grow at a faster rate at 45 than 41 degrees.

The NC Food Code Manual, a model adopted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s United States Department of Health and Human Services, protects public health and provides a guide for presenting unadulterated food to consumers.  The manual focuses on food identity and contamination, personal cleanliness and sanitation, and more.

“One of our main priorities is to safeguard the public from consuming harmful foods.  Holding cold food at 41 degrees or below, instead of 45 degrees is the safest way to protect people from illness.  I am certain that this temperature will lessen the risk of food-borne illness and hospitalization in Durham County,” said Chris Salter, director, environmental health, DCoDPH.  “We are asking all food-based businesses to start making the adjustment now to hold their foods at or below 41 degrees prior to January 1, 2019.  In some refrigerators that will mean the setting will need to be turned down to the mid-30’s or lower while others might achieve 41 degrees with a setting of 38 or 39 degrees.”

Listeria monocytogenes is a species of bacteria that can cause serious foodborne illness in certain people, such as pregnant women, the elderly, and immune-compromised people.  Listeria leads to more hospitalizations than any other foodborne pathogen and is responsible for one-third of mortality.  Food can be contaminated with listeria in the manufacturing environment and then continue to grow at refrigerated temperatures once in a food establishment.

For more information about the changes to cold holding temperatures in North Carolina, visit  For more information about Durham County’s Environmental Health Division, call 919.560.7800.

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