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Safely handling leftovers

August 10, 2014

There are numerous benefits that can be associated with saving leftovers for later use.

First of all, saving food for later is a great way to save money and avoid wasting food. Secondly, knowing that a meal can safely be stored away until a later time can reduce the chances of over-eating and related complications. What’s more, if you really enjoyed a meal, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy it again the next day. However, when it comes to storing and handling leftover meals, it is important to apply the correct food safety standards.

Here are some tips on how to ensure you keep your leftover meals safe and free from harmful bacteria.

When you should refrigerate

Sometimes, deciding on the best time to refrigerate leftovers can be a complicated process. If food has been heated, it should be allowed to cool to a point where there is no longer steam rising from it, then refrigerated.

However, under normal circumstances, a meal should not be left out for any longer than two hours. If you are handling food that was cooked outside, or left in hot temperatures, refrigerate it within one hour.

Properly storing leftovers

Making sure that your food is safely stored is another important aspect of keeping it free from contamination. If possible, always seal leftover food in clean, airtight containers.

If you want to store large quantities of food, such as homemade soup or stew, separate it into smaller containers so that it can cool quickly and more evenly.

Safely reheating

When you are reheating your leftovers to eat the next day, make sure that they are cooked through thoroughly, so that bacteria growth is not encouraged.

If you’re using a microwave to reheat leftovers, take steps to ensure that the meal has been cooked evenly all the way through, as cold spots can harbour dangerous bacteria. The use of  a cover when heating items will help food to heat evenly, and remember to rotate or stir your food at least once throughout the cooking process.