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By Jean Ince , Howard County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
Can't eat all your food at your favorite restaurant and want to take the rest home?
Have you given much thought to keeping the food safe on your journey home?
Chances are you have been to your favorite restaurant, ordered your favorite meal
and then realize you can’t eat it all. Or maybe you planned all along to only eat
half of the meal and take the rest home. Have you given much thought to keeping the
food safe on your journey home? With the popularity of take-home foods, many people
are faced with the challenge of keeping the food safe.
Perishable foods can cause illness. Proper handling of food and leftovers is essential
to ensure the food is safe for you to eat.
Bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees. To keep hot foods
hot, they should be stored at 140 degrees or hotter. Cold foods must be kept at 40
degrees or below. If you can’t make it home from the restaurant within two hours,
you will need to discard the food. Foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, and casseroles,
left at room temperature longer than 2 hours; or 1 hour if the outside temperature
is above 90 degrees must be discarded.
If you are not eating the food immediately, follow these guidelines to make sure the food remains safe for you to eat at a later
Hot Take-Out Foods –Once the food is cooked it should be held hot at an internal temperature of 140 degrees
or above. Just keeping food warm is not safe. Use a food thermometer to monitor the
internal temperature of the food.
Cold/Refrigerated Take-Out Foods- Refrigerate perishable foods as soon as possible - always with 2 hour of purchase.
Keep foods cold on the buffet table by nesting serving dishes of food in bowls of
ice. When using take-out foods for an outdoor event use a cooler with ice to keep
the foods cold. The cooler should be packed with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs.
Keep the cooler in the shade.
If food has been left out of refrigeration for longer than two hours, it should be
discarded. One hour if the outside temperature is above 90 degrees.
Let’s say you have followed all the rules and made it home in time to put the food
in the refrigerator for later. How long will it last?
To thaw frozen take-out food, place the item on a tray in the refrigerator. Allow
about 24 hours for every 5 pounds. Once thawed, you will need to reheat it to at least
165 degrees. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.
- Sauces, soups and gravy must be brought to a boil
- Never set the oven temperature below 325 degrees
- Reheating in a crockpot is not recommended
- When reheating in a microwave oven, cover and rotate the food for even
heating. Always allow standing time before eating
It is possible to enjoy that scrumptious meal from the restaurant a second time. Follow
food safety rules and keep in mind that when in doubt, throw it out!
For more information on food safety and keeping foods safe to eat, contact the Howard
County Cooperative Extension Service at 870-845-7517. You may also visit our office
located on the second floor of the courthouse.
Tomatoes are plentiful in several gardens. Here is a recipe from Ann Westfall on Salsa.
She says, and her family agrees, it is the best salsa recipe ever!
Media Contact: Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff Chair U of A Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service 421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852 (870) 845-7517 email@example.com