Leftover Food and Reheating Safety

Leftover foods must be handled safely to prevent getting a food-borne illness. You may get sick if leftover foods has been left out at room temperature for a long time and it is not reheated to proper temperatures.


Here are some basic food safety tips to keep leftover food safe:

  • Wash your hands before and after touching leftover foods.
  • Clean and sanitize any surfaces that will touch leftover foods.
  • Keep leftover foods out of the temperature danger zone (between 4ºC (40ºF) and 60ºC (140ºF)) to prevent harmful bacteria from growing.
  • Store leftover foods in the refrigerator within two hours after being served.
  • Cool leftover foods properly in the refrigerator.
  • Eat leftovers within 2 to 3 days or keep frozen for later use.
  • Thaw frozen leftovers in the refrigerator or in the microwave. Eat the leftovers immediately after they have been thawed and reheated.

To reheat food safely, follow these safety tips:

  • Reheat foods to an internal temperature of 74ºC (165ºF) or higher for at least 15 seconds. Use a probe thermometer to check.
  • Reheat foods to proper temperature within two hours.
  • Portion your leftovers and only reheat what you plan to use immediately. Smaller portions of food will reheat faster.
  • When using the microwave to reheat, make sure to stir the food midway through reheating so that the heat is even distributed.
  • Bring liquids such as gravies, soups and sauces to a full, rolling boil.
  • Stir liquids to make sure all areas of the food are being heated evenly.
  • Do not use a hot holding unit such as a slower cooker or a steam table to reheat leftover food. These units are made to keep foods hot and aren’t able to reach high enough temperatures to reheat foods properly. Foods are to be reheated first and then placed in the unit to keep hot.
  • After reheating, if food is to be held hot and not served immediately, make sure the food stays hot at minimum of 60ºC (140ºF) or higher.
  • Throw out any leftovers that have been reheated and not eaten.
  • Do not re-heat leftover food more than once.

If you have any questions, please contact us at 519-258-2146 ext. 4475.


Source URL: https://www.wechu.org/food-safety/leftover-food-and-reheating-safety

List of links present in page
  1. https://www.wechu.org/food-safety/leftover-food-and-reheating-safety
  2. https://www.wechu.org/food-safety/foodborne-illness
  3. https://www.wechu.org/safe-food-handling/handwashing-food-handlers
  4. https://www.wechu.org/food-safety/manual-dishwashing
  5. https://www.wechu.org/danger-zone
  6. https://www.wechu.org/how-cool-food-properly
  7. https://www.wechu.org/food-safety/thawing-foods-safely
  8. http://www.wechu.org/food-safety/how-use-probe-thermometer
  9. https://www.wechu.org/tags/foodborne-illness
  10. https://www.wechu.org/tags/food-poisoning
  11. https://www.wechu.org/tags/contaminated-food