Enjoy take-out foods safely

Prevent bacteria from ruining your dinner by taking these simple measures.

It is 4 p.m. on a weekday afternoon; do you know what you are having for dinner? For many, the answer is no. The busy lifestyles of adults and families leave large numbers of people turning to take-out food from their favorite restaurant or deli for a fast and convenient evening meal. The variety of take-out foods to choose at restaurants and delis is endless, allowing you to provide a meal for the family to enjoy. But you have an important job to do once you leave the restaurant or deli with your dinner, and that is to keep your take-out food safe. Foodborne illness can occur if food is not handled properly.

Keeping your take-out food safe can be easily done with a few quick tips:

  • Keep hot foods hot and cold food cold.
    Whether your dinner consists of cold salads and sandwiches or hot deli items, keeping food at the proper temperatures is critical. Hot foods must be held at temperatures above 140 degrees for safety and cold foods 40 degrees or below for safety. If you are holding the food for a period of time before eating, hot foods must be held in a preheated oven, slow cooker or chafing dish to keep proper temperature. Cold foods should be kept in a refrigerator or a cooler until being served or held in a bowl surrounded by ice.
  • Properly store food after eating.
    When the meal is done, leftover foods must be safely stored. Follow the two-hour rule which tells us that perishable foods should not be kept out of refrigeration for more than two hours. If the temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above, the time food can be left out is shortened to one hour. Food needs to be quickly refrigerated after you are done eating or harmful bacteria can begin to multiply.
  • Purchase your take-out items as the last stop on your way home.
    Getting your food home and in refrigeration or heat needs to be a priority, so finish other errands you might have first then grab dinner and head home.

Enjoying take-out foods can lead to a fast and easy dinner, but ensuring the safety of the food must still be a priority. Follow the tips above and feel confident that you can enjoy a safe meal.

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