4 tips for avoiding spoiled leftovers

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Food safety: Refrigerate leftovers to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below within two hours of them being served to you. | File photo

Saving leftovers to eat later is a great way to practice portion control and save money, but it’s important to make sure leftovers are safe to eat according to Home Food Safety, a collaborative program of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ConAgra Foods.

Keep these food safety tips in mind when reheating leftovers:

1. Refrigerate leftovers to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below within two hours of them being served to you. (In hotter weather over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, refrigerate after one hour.)

2. Seal leftovers in an airtight, clean container, and label it with an expiration date.

3. Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and use a food thermometer to make sure all types of food reach the safe minimum internal temperature throughout before you eat.

4. Check on the shelf life of leftovers and discard when it’s past the expiration date. When in doubt, throw it out.

“Unfortunately, you can’t rely on sight and scent alone to tell if food is spoiled or contaminated with foodborne pathogens,” Dobbins said. “That’s why it’s important to follow these simple steps, but a majority of Americans do not always do so, putting them at risk for food poisoning.”

According to a 2011 survey conducted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, only 23 percent of Americans always use a food thermometer to check the doneness of their foods, and only 28 percent regularly check the refrigerator thermometer.

“It’s important to properly store and reheat leftovers, whether at home or the office,” she said. “Encourage your work place to regularly clean the office refrigerator and ensure it remains under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.”

For more tips download the new Leftover Safety tip sheet, and determine the shelf life of leftovers and more with the free “Is My Food Safe?” app. Visit www.homefoodsafety.org for more tips on reducing the risk of food poisoning, including the new, interactive “What Was It?” Quiz.