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Pitfalls with the 2 hour/4 hour rule and how to avoid them

May 13th , 2021 by

How confident are you that staff are correctly following the 2 hour/4 hour rule for food safety?

While this rule gives you flexibility with preparing, holding and serving/selling food, it’s not as simple to follow as it seems.

Why? Because it introduces multiple time variables: 0-2 hours, 2-4 hours and 4+ hours, each with different requirements around what can be done with the food. See diagram below:

Source: NSW Food Authority

You might have a written procedure in place and be using paper to record compliance with this rule. But how do you know whether it is being followed consistently and accurately?

With a paper-based system, this can be very difficult. To comply, your staff need to continually monitor and record:

  • When food was removed from cold storage
  • How long the food was in the ‘temperature danger zone’
  • At what time that food was either returned to cold storage, served/sold to the customer or thrown out.

A piece of paper can’t remind staff when food needs to be moved, used or thrown out. Your staff need to know – and remember – when to do this.

But your staff are busy. They are going to forget, or lose track of time – and fail to record what they did and when. Or worse – fail to move, use or throw the food away at the required time.

And this can only mean two things for your business.

First, you won’t have adequate records to show you complied with the 2 hour/4 hour rule, meaning you could be found to be in breach of the Food Standards Code – which could lead to enforcement action.

Second – and far worse – you could unknowingly put your customers at risk by serving food that has been in the danger zone for too long.

That’s where a Monika digital food safety system can help – with automated task reminders and smart task sequencing, where the outcome of one task determines the next.

Monika Smart PA in Cafe

The Monika Smart PA will remind staff when food needs to be moved, used or thrown out.

What does that mean exactly? It means that when food is removed from storage, a new task sequence is created for that batch of food. Staff are then automatically prompted to take the required action within the required timeframe.

For example, before two hours have passed, staff are reminded to return the stock to cold storage if it is no longer required. If this action isn’t recorded within 2 hours, a new task reminder will be created for any remaining stock to be thrown out within four hours.

Contact us for a free demonstration, where we will show you exactly how it can work for you.

Monika has provided temperature monitoring solutions to healthcare and foodservice institutions worldwide since the early 1990s. Our product simulation technology originated from research conducted in an accredited laboratory into 100+ different product types.

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