Post-Game Plays: Food Safety Tips for Leftovers
Did your favorite team just lose the Super Bowl? Do you have food left over from your Super Bowl viewing party that you were saving for a victory dessert? A fumble or interception may have cost a team the Super Bowl but leaving food out at an unsafe temperature can cost you a trip to the hospital.
Did you follow the 2-hour rule?
It is essential to chill foods within 2 hours of cooking because perishable foods left at room temperature longer than 2 hours can have bacterial growth and produce toxins . Those toxins that are heat resistant are not destroyed by cooking and can cause serious illness.
Follow the 2-hour rule with future leftovers
The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline receives many inquiries from home cooks regarding how to chill large quantities of cooked foods, such as a large pot of soup. Large containers of foods will take longer to cool so it is best to divide foods into shallow containers and then place in a refrigerator kept at 40 °F or below. Hot foods can be placed directly in the refrigerator , so there is no need to cool hot foods at room temperature for more than two hours. Foods can also be rapidly chilled in an ice or cold water bath before refrigerating.
Leftovers should be reheated to 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. When reheating foods in the microwave make sure they are evenly dispersed and covered. Since microwaves can have cold spots, stir foods halfway through cooking and ensure the food has reached 165 °F in multiple places.
Avoid reheating leftovers in slow cookers . Cooked foods can be reheated on the stove, in a microwave, or in a conventional oven. Once the foods reach 165 °F they can then be placed in a preheated slow cooker for hot serving-kept at least 140 °F or above.
When storing leftovers, it’s OK to place hot foods directly in the refrigerator , so there is no need to cool hot foods down to room temperature. Foods can also be rapidly chilled in an ice or cold water bath before refrigerating.
Cleaning out your locker
Whether you have leftover foods in your refrigerator because you were too busy celebrating or because you were just too broken up about your team losing, let the FoodKeeper app help you determine their safety. Never use smell alone as a determinate of safety because bacteria that cause spoilage in foods create a nasty smell, but bacteria that cause foodborne illness may not create a smell.