Food Safety 101

Kathrine

Editorial Assistant

Ever found yourself in the crucial dilemma of the borderline-leftover? To eat or not to eat…

You know—that Tupperware box that’s been hiding out in the back of the fridge, last night’s leftovers that had a sweaty after-party in the pan, or that freezer box from your ambitious meal prepping days that you forgot about.

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Whether you opt for the if in doubt throw it out approach or the laissez-faire leftover-examination—giving it a sniff, tasting just a nip, and concluding that all is likely fine and dandy—we have some useful tips for you! 

Taking a few precautions when storing, cooking, and reheating your food can help reduce food waste and keep you from playing Russian roulette with your gut: Welcome to Food Safety 101! 

The Fridge ABCs

Your fridge temperature should be set below 5°C/40°F. Keep it cool is the golden rule, as a higher temperature will provide conditions for growth of foodborne bacteria. To keep law and order in the fridge, make sure that raw meat, seafood, and fish are stored on the lowest shelf, carefully sealed in packaging or containers to avoid cross contamination from leaking juices. 

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Paying attention to date-labels is key to avoid food poisoning, but also a great opportunity to save a few bucks! Always comply with the “use-by” dates, as ignoring these could put you at health risk. “Best before” dates, on the other hand, are more of a guideline from the manufacturer as to when the product will decrease in quality in regards to taste. Eating food past its “best before” date will not compromise your gut health. However, using discretion is advised! 

Cooking Code of Conduct

Stick to the golden rule: Always wash your hands, pots, and pans! Bad kitchen hygiene will pave the way for cross contamination, which is the leading cause of food poisoning. Therefore, make sure that your hands are clean along with all working surfaces and utensils before you start juggling the pans. 

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Also, the same procedure is required before and after handling high-risk foods, such as raw meat, eggs, and leafy greens—a pro-tip is to have a cutting board exclusively reserved for high risk food. 

Store, Reheat, Ready to Eat

Nothing beats the joy of coming home after a long day of work to find leftovers in the fridge. However, if stored or reheated improperly, the shortcut to a quick dinner can result in an agonizing stomach ache, or at worst a bad case of food poisoning. 

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As a rule of thumb, refrigerate your leftovers within 90 min. of cooking, and store them in sealed containers for up to two days in the fridge. If you wish to store your food longer than the two-day time-span, it’s a job for the freezer, where your leftovers can hibernate until they’re needed for duty for approx. 1 – 2 months, in order not to compromise flavor. 

If you’re reheating leftovers from the freezer, make sure to consume them within 24 hours. Also, do not reheat leftovers twice, as repeating the process of reheating and cooling will heighten the risk of bacteria growth. You should always make sure that your leftovers are heated evenly throughout and reach a core temperature above 75°C/170°F to kill any foodborne bacteria.