Ah, the holiday season is here, along with lovely meals that result in leftovers. While they're great to eat, it's also important to observe some food safety standards to avoid food poisoning.
Food poisoning causes causes stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. According to the Mayo Clinic, food borne-illness is caused by harmful organisms such as bacteria in contaminated food. These organisms typically don't have a smell or taste, so can be difficult to detect. If you're in doubt about a food's safety, it's best to throw it out.
The Department of Agriculture says leftover food, in general, should be eaten within four days. If you have a lot of leftovers, and don't think they will be eaten within four days, then it's best to freeze them.
Proper food handling can prevent most cases of food poisoning and the Mayo Clinic provides several food safety tips.
- Quickly refrigerate perishable foods such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs. Don't let them sit more than two hours at typical room temperature or more than one hour at temperatures above 90 F (32 C).
- Eat, or promptly refrigerate, uncooked foods, such as cold salads or sandwiches. Your goal is to minimize the time a food is in the "danger zone" — between 40 F (4 C) and 140 F (60 C) — when bacteria can multiply.
- Before eating leftovers, reheat them thoroughly. Reheat leftover sauces, soups and gravies to boiling.
- If you use the oven to reheat leftovers, set the temperature no lower than 325 F (163 C) to ensure they're reheated quickly.
- Slow cookers and chafing dishes aren't recommended for reheating leftovers because they may not get hot enough.
- To safely reheat cooked food in a microwave oven, cover the foods with a lid or a microwave-safe plastic wrap to hold in moisture and provide safe, even heating. Turn back a corner for the steam to vent. After reheating foods in the microwave, allow standing time. Use a clean food thermometer to check that food has reached 165 F (74 C).
Sharing meals over the holidays is a wonderful way to spend time with friends and family members. Taking a few extra steps to be sure leftovers are properly handled will help make sharing leftovers enjoyable too. Happy Holidays!
All user-generated information on this site is the opinion of its author only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for any medical conditions. Members and guests are responsible for their own posts and the potential consequences of those posts detailed in our Terms of Service.