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Five Tips to Help You Score an A+ in Food Safety during Finals

Young woman eating a sandwich while studying.Finals are without a doubt challenging.  Waking up at 2:00 a.m. after falling asleep while studying is a scene repeated at many schools around the country.  In addition to compromising your time, that extra effort can compromise your immune system if you cut corners when eating take-out during finals.

Take-out food is always popular with students, especially during busy times like final exams.  But has that pizza been sitting out all night? Did that deli sandwich make it into the refrigerator after you bought it, or has it been in your backpack all afternoon?

Perishable foods, including anything containing meat, poultry or seafood, can cause illness when mishandled.  No matter how busy you are with school work, it is important to handle take-out foods properly and avoid foodborne bacteria.

Follow these food safety tips to get an A+ in Food Safety this finals season:

  1. Keep HOT Food Hot: To keep hot foods safe, keep them at 140 °F or above.
  2. Keep COLD Food Cold: Cold foods must be kept at 40 °F or below.
  3. 2-Hour Rule: Bacteria grow rapidly between 40-140 °F - Discard all perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles, left at room temperature longer than two hours, one hour in temperatures above 90 °F.  This includes leftovers taken from a restaurant… and pizza! Some exceptions to the rule: cookies, crackers, bread and whole fruits.
  4. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers in shallow containers and wrap or cover the food.
  5. Remember: leftovers stored in the refrigerator should be consumed in 3-4 days. When in doubt, throw it out!!

For More Information

If you have questions about storage times of food or beverages, download USDA’s FoodKeeper application for Android Exit disclaimer and iOS Exit disclaimer devices.  Follow FSIS on Twitter at twitter.com/usdafoodsafety Exit disclaimer or in Spanish at twitter.com/usdafoodsafe_es. Exit disclaimer

If you have any questions or would like to order some of our educational materials, call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854) or email mphotline.fsis@usda.gov. You can also chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, English or Spanish.


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Posted in: School | SeasonalTagged: Cooking Temperatures