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Leftovers and Food Safety

  • Published: 2013-08-22
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  • Language: English
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Often when we cook at home or eat in a restaurant, we have leftovers. Safe handling of leftovers is very important to reducing foodborne illness. “How long can I keep leftovers in the refrigerator?” “To what temperture should I reheat leftovers?” “If I thaw leftovers, can I refreeze them?” To answer these questions and others, follow the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service’s recommendations for handling leftovers safely.

Cook Food Safely at Home
The first step in having safe leftovers is cooking the food safely in the first place. Use a food thermometer to make sure that the food is cooked to a safe, minimum internal temperature.
• Red meats: Cook all raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a
food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or
consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.
• Ground meats: Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
• Poultry: Cook all poultry to an internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.

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