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Cold food starts at a lower temperature. This means it takes more time to enter the temperature danger zone than hot food. Cold food can be held without temperature control for up to 6 hours. If your operation displays or holds TCS food without temperature control, it must do so under certain conditions. 

The conditions for holding cold food are different from those for holding hot food. Before using time as a method of control, check with your local regulatory authority for specific requirements. Label the food with the time you removed it from refrigeration and the time you must throw it out. 

The discard time on the label must be six hours from the time you removed the food from refrigeration. For example, if you remove potato salad from refrigeration at 3:00 p.m. to serve at a picnic, the discard time on the label should be 9:00 p.m. This equals six hours from the time you removed it from refrigeration.


  1. Cold food lasts longer than hot food after being removed from temperature control

  2. Always label food with a discard time

  3. The discard time for cold foods is usually 6 hours