Take Out

You have a lot of choices when ordering out these days. Whether it’s rotisserie chicken from a grocery store, a pan of potato salad from a caterer, or a full meal from a fine-dining restaurant, the choices are endless. The place you’re buying the food from has done its part in keeping the food safe. Now it’s your turn to make sure it stays that way. Keeping take-out food at safe temperatures will go a long way toward keeping you safe. But, it’s just as important to protect the food from contamination.
As with grocery shopping, there are some hazards to avoid when bringing your take-out food home.

Keep food at the correct temperature on the car ride home.

Take Out Box Packing the Cooler











It’s important to keep take-out food at a safe temperature during the ride home. This will not only ensure that the food tastes its best, but will also help keep any bacteria on the food from growing and making you sick. Get in the habit of storing take-out food in insulated shopping bags. A good old-fashioned cooler will also do the trick. If you can, store cold take-out food inside the car rather than in the trunk during summer months. Your air conditioner will keep the food cooler than it would be in the trunk.

Keep your route as short as possible.

After you’ve picked up your food, you’ll want to take it home as quickly as possible. Running a bunch of other errands afterward can put the food at risk.

Store leftover take-out food above raw food.

Take-out food can become unsafe if it’s not stored correctly in your refrigerator. So you must store any leftovers carefully. One of the most important things you can do is to make sure that you store take-out food above raw meat, seafood, and poultry. This will keep these food items from touching. It will also stop any blood and raw juices from dripping onto the take-out food.

Keep it at the correct temperature.

You must keep your take-out food out of the temperature danger zone. That’s the temperature range between 40°F and 140°F (4°C and 60°C). So any leftover take-out food must be stored in the refrigerator at an internal temperature of 40°F (4°C) or lower. Any higher than that and bacteria that might be on the food can grow and make you or your family sick.

Make sure you have a refrigerator thermometer.

Thermometer
A good refrigerator thermometer can tell you at a glance if your take-out food is being held at the correct temperature. To keep it at an internal temperature of 40°F (4°C), your refrigerator should be set a couple of degrees colder. That means your refrigerator thermometer should read 38°F (4°C) or lower. See the Food Safety page for more information on choosing the right refrigerator thermometer.

Determine a use-by date for leftovers.

Some bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures, so leftover take-out food can only be stored for so long before it can become unsafe. The amount of time you have depends on how cold your refrigerator can keep food. If leftovers are stored at an internal temperature of 40°F (4°C) or lower, they can be eaten for up to 7 days before they must be thrown out. So if you stored leftover take-out food on Monday, you need to eat it or throw it out by the following Sunday.

Label leftovers before storing them.

Label your takeoutAdd the date to the front of the freezer bag









How many times have you pulled leftovers from the refrigerator and asked yourself, “Is this still good?” The best way to avoid this is to put a use-by date on all leftover take-out food. Write the date in marker directly on the take-out container. If you’ve stored the food in a new container, such as a food storage bag or plastic storage container, you can mark the date on the container with a grease pencil or marker. You can also place a handwritten label on the container.

Cool food before putting it away.

Once you’re done eating your take-out food, cool it down and put it away in the refrigerator. Many people let food cool on the kitchen counter before putting it in the refrigerator. While this may seem like a good idea, it really isn’t. Cooking food does not kill all of the bacteria on it. Any that remains will grow, especially if the food is left at room temperature. This can make you or your family sick. You must cool your take-out food as quickly as possible when you’re done serving it. There are many ways to do this. See the Food Safety page for more information on cooling food.

Keep hot food hot when holding it.

There are times when you’ll want to keep take-out food hot while you are waiting to serve it. During these times food may be held in the oven, on the stovetop on low heat settings, or in crockpots. It is important that you keep food at the correct temperature when holding it this way. This is especially true if you are going to hold it for long periods of time. Hot food must be held at an internal temperature of 140°F (60°C) or higher. Check the temperature frequently. If the food is not at the correct temperature, turn up the heat. Food that is being held at temperatures below 140°F (60°C) for more than four hours must be thrown out.

Reheat food to the correct temperature.

If you’re reheating leftover take-out items that include meat, poultry, or seafood and the items are going to be eaten immediately, it’s safe to reheat them to any temperature. But if you are keeping these items warm while serving them buffet style, you have to reheat them to at least 165°F (74°C). And it can’t take longer than two hours to do it.

Determine a use-by date for leftovers.

Some bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures, so leftover take-out food can only be stored for so long before it can become unsafe. The amount of time you have depends on how cold your refrigerator can keep food. If leftovers are stored at an internal temperature of 40°F (4°C) or lower, they can be eaten for up to 7 days before they must be thrown out. So if you stored leftover take-out food on Monday, you need to eat it or throw it out by the following Sunday.

Label leftovers before storing them.

How many times have you pulled leftovers from the refrigerator and asked yourself, “Is this still good?” The best way to avoid this is to put a use-by date on all leftover take-out food. Write the date in marker directly on the take-out container. If you’ve stored the food in a new container, such as a food storage bag or plastic storage container, you can mark the date on the container with a grease pencil or marker. You can also place a handwritten label on the container.

Fork Mint Tomatoes