How to deal with leftover food: Tips from the Cleveland Clinic

  1. For cookouts and barbeques, when you’re thinking about your leftover food, anything that’s been sitting out for more than 2 hours, you probably shouldn’t save
  2. Avoid letting foods get into the ‘temperature danger zone’, which ranges from 40-140oF.  When food has been sitting out in that temperature range, it will begin to grow bacteria, and there’s a higher likelihood of getting sick from eating it.
  3. There are some food items that are likely able to be saved such as snacks like nuts or pretzels.
  4. If you have a vegetable tray, you can probably save most of it.
  5. Items which cannot be saved include pasta salad and potato salad. Those items are more likely to grow bacteria, so you can discard them.
  6. If you’re having a large gathering, stick with smaller serving dishes, but have your backup in the fridge to pull out half way through, so that you can keep things at a good, healthy temperature
  7. If you are serving things such as salads with dressings, put the dressing on the side, and let people decide how much they want to use. This will help keep moisture out of the dishes, because moisture is where bacteria likes to grow.
  8. When the party is over, be mindful not only of what you can save, but how you pack it up.
  9. If you’re storing foods, use shallow containers, and bring the food to room temperature before you put them in the refrigerator
  10. Once the food is in the refrigerator, you have a window of about 2-3 days to eat leftovers.
  11. If you’re not sure if something is still good to eat – use your senses. Inspect it for visible mold and smell it to see if it smells right; if in doubt, throw it out.

(Source: Cleveland Clinic)

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