How long can food be stored in the refrigerator or in the open air?

Leftover food can be stored for three to four days in the refrigerator. Be sure to consume them within this time frame. After this period, the risk of food poisoning increases. If you think you won’t be able to eat the leftovers within four days, freeze them immediately.

Food poisoning is caused by harmful germs, such as bacteria found in contaminated food. Because bacteria don’t usually change the taste, smell, or appearance of food, you can’t tell if a food is unsafe to eat. If you have any doubts about the safety of a food, it is best to throw it away.

Cooked foods: do not leave them in the open air for more than two hours

Fortunately, most cases of food poisoning can be prevented with proper cooking and handling of food. To ensure food safety, promptly refrigerate perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy products and eggs. Do not let them sit for more than two hours at normal room temperature or more than one hour at temperatures above 32°C.

Uncooked foods, such as cold salads or sandwiches, should also be eaten or refrigerated quickly. Your goal is to reduce the time a food is in the “danger zone” – between 4 and 60°C – where bacteria can multiply rapidly.

Reheat food above 74° before serving

When you’re ready to eat leftovers, reheat them on the stovetop or in a conventional oven or microwave until the internal temperature reaches 74 C. Slow cookers are not recommended for reheating leftovers, as these Appliances may not heat food enough to kill bacteria. Instead, reheat them on the stovetop or in a conventional oven or microwave until the internal temperature is high enough to kill bacteria.

Meat, egg, cooked dishes: two or three days in the fridge max

The shelf life in the refrigerator varies from food to food before consuming it. Cooked leftovers, especially meat and eggs, should be refrigerated and consumed within two to three days. Otherwise, the risk of foodborne illnesses caused by bacteria increases.

In general, our food supply is quite healthy. There are countries where sanitary conditions are not good and where foodborne diseases are much more numerous. However, everyone should use common sense.

If you know you won’t be eating leftovers in the coming days, or if you’re cooking in bulk for future meals, freeze the food immediately after cooking. There’s always the good old common sense test: If it doesn’t smell or look good, don’t eat it.

In addition, it is safer to leave food in hermetically sealed plastic containers. The key is to store food in a shallow container that can be sealed when the food has cooled. These practices help limit bacteria.

Here’s another safety tip: don’t leave prepared foods out in the open for more than two hours. If you are in a hot place, where the temperature is above 32°C, reduce this time to one hour. Bacteria can grow quickly in unrefrigerated foods. And some bacteria make a poison (toxin) that can make you sick, hence the term “food poisoning”.

Cooked foods: reheat them before serving

If you don’t plan to eat ready-to-eat foods right away, you have two choices.

– You can keep them warm: internal temperature of 60°C or more, in a baking dish in a preheated oven.

– You can also divide the food into small portions, place them in shallow containers and refrigerate them. Plan to reheat food to 74 C just before serving.

* Presse Santé strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the advice of a health professional.

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