Eating Safely

Frequently Asked Questions

11. How should I store leftovers and ready-to-eat meals?

You should refrigerate or freeze leftovers and ready-to-eat meals within two hours of receiving them. If the air temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above, you should put the food away before one hour. When storing hot foods, divide the food into small portions, place it in shallow containers, and refrigerate or freeze it.

If you buy hot food out or have it delivered, keep it hot, at a temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above. You may use a preheated oven, chafing dishes, warming trays, or slow cookers. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food.

If you bring home a doggie bag, make sure to refrigerate your leftovers within two hours of receiving the food, and within one hour if the air temperature is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above. If you will not be getting home soon enough, put the food in a cooler with ice or freezer gel packs to keep it cold. If this is not possible, it is better to leave the leftovers at the restaurant.

Don't keep refrigerated leftovers more than 3 to 4 days. Even if the food looks and smells fine, it may not be safe to eat after that time. Don't hesitate to get rid of food that is no longer safe. When in doubt, throw it out.