Handling Take-Out Foods Safely (E3257)

Safe handling procedures will help keep your take-out food safe to eat.

Handling Take-Out Foods Safely

Take-out and delivered foods have become routine and often necessary in today’s busy world. However, take-out foods that are transported need time and temperature control to avoid foodborne illness. Following safe handling procedures will help keep your take-out food safe to eat.
Bacteria grow rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F. It’s best to keep food out of this “Temperature Danger Zone.”
Handling hot take-out or delivered food safely.
  • Keep cooked hot food at an internal temperature of 140 °F or above.
  • Use a food thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of food.
  • Divide leftovers into smaller portions, and place into shallow containers in the refrigerator.
Handling cold or refrigerated take-out or delivered food safely.
  • Keep cold foods at 40 °F or below.
  • Refrigerate perishable food within two hours after purchase or delivery.
  • If perishable food is out in air temperatures above 90 °F, refrigerate within one hour.
  • Pack cold food in a covered cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs.
Thawing meals safely.
  • Thaw wrapped, cooked meat or poultry in the refrigerator.
  • Allow 24 hours for every 5 pounds of meat or poultry.
  • Eat cooked meat or poultry within.
  • 3 to 4 days.
  • Eat thawed meals cold or reheated.
  • Note that you may place frozen food directly into the oven without thawing.
Reheating meals safely.
  • Always reheat meat and poultry to an internal temperature of at least 165 °F.
  • Use a food thermometer to check internal temperature.
  • If reheating in the oven, set oven temperature to no lower than 325 °F.
  • Do not reheat meals in a slow cooker.
  • Cover and rotate food for even heating when using a microwave.
WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!
Reference.
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. (2013, June). Safe handling of take-out foods. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from

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