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TEXARKANA, Ark. –
Americans like to eat out a lot. We have come to rely on others to prepare our food.
It is easier than ever not to cook, and Americans are taking advantage of that. The
Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average household spends an average of
$3,008 per year on dining out.
If you are taking your food to go then you need to properly handle your leftovers.
Foods from the drive through are usually consumed as soon as you get home, while take
out foods could consist of foods that you purchase in advance and plan to eat later.
This might include things such as party platters or an entire cooked meal.
Can’t eat right away? Keep the foods at the correct temperatures, not only for quality
but for food safety as well. Once the food is cooked, it should be held hot, at an
internal temperature of 140 degrees F or above. Just keeping food warm is not safe.
If you plan to eat later, it will be necessary to divide the meal into smaller portions
or pieces, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate, but for no longer than 3-4
For those foods that you purchase which are intended to be served cold, they should
be kept at 40 degrees F. or below. Refrigerate your perishable foods as soon as possible,
always within 2 hours of purchase or delivery.
If food has been delivered or picked up and will be put on a buffet table, be sure
to keep it cold as well by nesting several serving dishes of food in bowls of ice.
Use small platters and replace them with fresh refrigerated platters of food often,
rather than adding fresh food to a serving dish already on the table.
Since it is football season, you may be purchasing foods for a tailgating party.
Remember to keep a cooler packed with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs. If necessary,
keep the cooler in the shade.
Above all, remember the 2 hour rule when food is removed from the cooler. Discard
all perishable foods that have been left at outside temperatures longer than 2 hours;
1 hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees F.
Once finished, discard all perishable foods, such as eggs, meat, poultry, and casseroles
that have been left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Some exceptions to
this rule are foods such as cookies, crackers, breads, and whole fruits.
Leftovers should be refrigerated or frozen in shallow containers wrapped or with closed
lids. The food should always be covered. No food should stay in the refrigerator for
longer than 4 days. This includes luncheon meats and protein based salads, such as
tuna, macaroni, or egg salad.
I know that some of you may be thinking that this is wasteful and as long as the food
stays in the refrigerator, it is still good to eat. The truth is, food stored longer
than 4 days may begin to spoil or become unsafe to eat.
If you have properly stored the foods after eating, then it may be possible to reheat
them. Foods containing meat or poultry should be reheated to an internal temperature
of 165 degrees F. Reheat sauces, soups and gravies to a boil.
If you plan on reheating the foods in the oven, do not set the temperature any lower
than 325 degrees F. Reheating in chafing dishes and slow cookers are not recommended
due to the length of time foods may remain in the temperature “danger zone.”
For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or
visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at email@example.com,
on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaDue, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the
web at uaex.uada.edu/Miller.
By Carla Due County Extension Agent - FCSThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Due County Extension Agent - FCSU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854 (870) 779-3609 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.