Bringing Home Leftovers...Safely

It’s always a treat to visit a favorite restaurant and be served a favorite meal. But sometimes dining out can offer too much of a good thing. The portions served in some restaurants are so plentiful there’s just too much food on the plate to comfortably eat in one sitting. That’s when a “doggie bag” comes in handy.

Tonight’s restaurant leftovers can make for an extra tasty lunch tomorrow. As great as leftovers can be, it’s extremely important to handle them safely. The kinds of bacteria that cause food poisoning can be sneaky. They don’t always change the taste, smell or appearance of foods, which can make it impossible to tell just by looking… or even tasting… whether leftovers have spoiled and become dangerous to eat.

If you ever doubt the safety of your leftovers, it’s best to dispose of them. Here are some additional tips from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A few helpful tips…

  • Always go directly home after eating out if you’re bringing home leftovers. Don’t leave your doggie bag sitting in the car while going to a movie or stopping to visit friends. If you will not be arriving home within two hours or less of being served, it is best not to take your leftovers home.

  • Put leftovers in the refrigerator right away. Don’t place them on the counter or kitchen table and forget about them for a while.

  • Repackage your leftovers. Don’t leave food in restaurant containers. Store them in airtight wrap or sealed storage containers.

  • Eat refrigerated leftovers within a couple days to reduce the risk of food poisoning. If you don’t think you’ll be eating your leftovers so soon, freeze them immediately.

  • Heat your leftovers thoroughly. Heat gravies and sauces until they’re steaming hot.

  • If reheating leftovers in a microwave oven, always cover food and rotate the plate so everything heats evenly.

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