Food Safety - Time/Temperature Control for Safety (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 to eat. Those items are known as TCS foods or Time/Temperature Control for Safety foods. A TCS food requires time and temperature controls to limit the growth of illness causing bacteria.

What foods are considered TCS?


A food item is determined to be a TCS Food by considering five factors:

  1. Acidity
  2. Moisture content
  3. Acidity and moisture interaction
  4. Heat treatment
  5. Packaging


In some foods, it is possible that neither the acidity nor the moisture content alone are low enough to protect the food; however, their interaction makes the food safe by creating an environment unfavorable to microorganism growth. Melons, leafy greens, and tomatoes are protected from outside contaminants until they have been cut. Cutting or tearing these foods alters their properties and encourages growth of microorganisms.


Just because a food is not defined as a TCS Food does not guarantee that it will be safe from all hazards. Non-TCS Food may contain biological, chemical, or physical food safety hazards. Combination foods (those consisting of multiple TCS or non-TCS Foods) present an additional challenge; these foods are assumed to be TCS Food unless the retail food establishment can prove otherwise.


Click here to read what Regulation 61-25 has to say about TCS Foods.