I’m convinced there are two types of people in the world: leftover people and non-leftover people. Some people (myself included) have no problem eating food days after it was initially prepared. And others will refuse to touch anything more than 10 minutes removed from a pan.
I hate to waste food, so if I don’t finish a restaurant meal, I’ll ask for a take-home container. But that’s when the problem begins. If I don’t go home immediately after dinner, the food sits in my car, approaching the “danger zone.”
When food reaches a temperature between 41°-140° F (basically not really cold and not really hot), bacteria begin to multiply rapidly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 75 million people get a foodborne illness every year in the U.S.
Here are some tips to keep leftovers from going to the dark side:
•Immediately refrigerate any uneaten food, no more than two hours after preparation or purchase
•Don’t store food in the pan it was cooked in; divide it up into small portions
•Check the temperature of your refrigerator. It should be set at 40°F. Anything warmer can cause unsafe growth of bacteria
•Don’t defrost frozen food at room temperature. Use a microwave or place it in the fridge
•If you have properly handled your leftovers, you can store them for up to four days
For more information on safe food handling, visit www.foodsafety.gov.