After a excellent party or dinner celebration, deciding what to do with a desk full of leftovers might not be at the forefront of your mind, but it’s a significant part of partying. It’s definitely a pity to waste good food, but letting leftovers linger without temperature control could be dangerous.
Any food left out for more than two hours is susceptible to dangerous bacterial growth and should be disposed of. This goes for any area of the meal, and it’s especially important when your leftovers have been sitting out in the summer heat. This is true for both cold and hot foods, so be sure to serve foods immediately prior to mealtime and store anything that’s sitting out when the meal is coming to a close.
Bacteria thrive between 41 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit – this is called the temperature”Danger Zone” for storage. Whenever the food hits that range, bacteria start growing immediately, so the time spent in that zone, the safer the food is.
Wrap it up!
How should you handle what’s left?
• Save just the food you know to have been handled safely in the first place, and which hasn’t been tainted by double-dipping or by lots of hands picking at it. If it’s been sitting out uncovered in your backyard, eliminate it.
• Be honest in assessing what you will probably consume over the next three or four times. While nobody likes throwing food away, it is not worth storing it on your refrigerator just to wind up throwing it out anyway. If you’d like to save them, freeze them immediately.
• make certain to store foods properly. Pack meats separately from vegetables and grains. Mark the storage containers or bags with the item names and the dates you packed them along with a”use-by” date so you can keep tabs on what to use by when.
• Cool all foods completely before storage. Ensure that your refrigerator is working to keep food cold enough, preferably no more than 40 degrees. You can help keep the temperature consistent by not overloading the fridge, which compromises its efficiency – another reason to be choosy about what you are saving!
It’s ideal to do this on the stove top or in the oven as microwaves don’t heat evenly and some regions may be heated properly and others may not be hot enough. Be sure to use a thermometer to check the temperature, removing the food from the heat source before assessing the to make sure that you’re getting an accurate reading and you are not measuring the temperature of your heat source!
Storing your leftovers safely not only keeps you from wasting tasty food, it prevents the Raccoon Sounds and growth of dangerous bacteria and limits your exposure of foodborne illnesses. Any hot or cold foods should not be left out for more than 2 hours. Be cautious about what you opt to save, and make sure you eat it within a couple of days.
When in doubt, toss it!