Safety and Compliance: Restaurant Food Warmers and Wisconsin Food Code

Health code regulations for keeping food hot are designed to ensure the safety of consumers by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria in food items. In Wisconsin, as in many other states, these regulations are based on the guidelines for food establishments, including restaurants, cafeterias, and food vendors, outlined within the FDA Food Code.

Also, in order to stay in compliance with the state regulatory codes, it is necessary to have the right protocols and equipment in place.

In this article, we will take a look at Wisconsin health codes and what they have to say about hot food storage. We also discuss some tips for using restaurant food warmers to provide safe and clean food for consumers.

Wisconsin Hot Food Code

Here are some of the key aspects of Wisconsin’s health code regulations concerning hot food storage:

Temperature Requirements

In order to prevent bacterial growth, hot food items must be stored in an environment where their internal temperatures are not allowed to drop below 135° F. It is often necessary for food vendors to use restaurant food warmers and food thermometers to ensure compliance with this regulation.

Holding and Display

Hot food intended for immediate consumption or display must be maintained at or above the required minimum temperature of 135° F. For example, buffets and other self-service areas must have appropriate heating equipment, such as steam tables and heat lamps, to keep the food hot.

Time Limits

Wisconsin food vendors must observe strict time limits for holding hot food items, which is typically no more than four hours. Once the time limit has passed, the food must be discarded or properly reheated. Additionally, food establishments may be required to document and label the time that the hot food items were prepared and placed on display.


If hot food items are allowed to cool below the minimum temperature, they must be reheated to an internal temperature of at least 165° F before they can be served. It is important to note that the food must be reheated within two hours after falling below the minimum temperature. 

Restaurant Food Warmers

Proper use of restaurant food warmers is essential to comply with the Wisconsin Food Code and ensure food safety. Here are a few tips for using them effectively:

Monitor Your Food’s Temperature

When storing hot food, it is essential to constantly monitor the internal temperature of individual food items with a food thermometer. Since the minimum requirement is 135° F, it’s recommended to set your restaurant food warmer to somewhere between 140° to 145° F.

Preheat Your Restaurant Food Warmer

Preheating your restaurant food warmer to the desired temperature before placing hot food inside will help to maintain consistent temperatures and prevent rapid cooling.

Keep Your Food Organized

By arranging food items neatly in your restaurant food warmer, you can help to ensure even heating and easy access. If your restaurant food warmer becomes too crowded, it may result in some items becoming too hot, while others might drop below the minimum temperature.

Keep Your Restaurant Food Warmer Clean

A clean and well-maintained restaurant food warmer will help prevent cross-contamination while ensuring efficient heating. Furthermore, a build-up of food waste inside your restaurant food warmer could be seen as unsanitary during a government inspection, potentially resulting in lower scores from your local regulatory bodies.

Professional Food Equipment From Taylor Enterprises

For over 60 years, Taylor Enterprises has provided restaurants and food vendors all over Wisconsin with the highest quality food preparation and storage equipment. Our commitment to excellence has given us the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in food preparation equipment, such as Taylor, MagnaBlend, Henny Penny, Electromenu, Flavor Burst, and Perfect Fry products.

If you are in need of professional food storage, preparation, and servicing equipment, Taylor Enterprises has the right knowledge, experience, and products for you. We also sell replacement parts and perform maintenance for all kinds of restaurant and food service supplies.

Click here to get in touch with Taylor Enterprises today!

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