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Health Matters with Take Out Food

Randy DeVaul

Posted on January 26, 2019 13:24

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Fast food is not healthy. Pre-made meals can be healthy, but care must be taken to not abuse the food with excessive temperatures or time. Enjoy the convenience while keeping you and your family safe and healthy.

Life can come at you fast. When it does, who has time to cook? Take-out and delivery foods can be a time or energy saver when in a pinch or when too tired or frazzled to fix a meal. We’re not talking about ‘fast food’ but pre-made food – hot or cold – and how to take care of that take-out so it doesn’t take you out.

First, let’s discuss time. Follow the two-hour rule. Throw out all perishable foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, and casseroles, left at room temperature longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F. That means whether you just picked up food at the window or on your way to the family reunion, watch your time when prepared food is out of its safe temperature range. Keep hot foods at 140 °F or above and ‘chilled’ foods at 40 °F or below. Bacteria grow rapidly between 40 and 140 °F.  If eating at a later time, take-out or delivered food should be divided into smaller portions, placed in shallow containers, and refrigerated.

Packing a cooler? Use plenty of ice or frozen gel packs. Keep the cooler shaded and remember the 2-hour rule and the temperature requirements when removing food from the cooler. Discard perishable foods left out of the cooler if exceeding these times and temperatures. If needing that cooler for longer than a couple hours, your clock starts running when your ice is gone, not when the melted ice water becomes warm.

What do you do with all those second-time-around leftovers? Well, after they’ve been sitting on the picnic buffet all afternoon in the sun or your restaurant leftovers are propped nicely on the shelf in the back window, you most likely won’t want any leftovers. That is, not if you are planning on going to work the next morning without dysentery.

If you have handled the food safely so far, then re-pack in a freshly-iced cooler and freeze it when you get home in shallow containers, ensuring the foods freeze thoroughly and quickly. Those containers are also easier to thaw when ready to re-prepare them and you won’t have to thaw the entire amount of food – only what you intend to reheat and eat right then. Be sure to cover the food with aluminum foil or an air-tight lid when placed in the refrigerator or freezer.

Whole roasts, hams, and turkeys should be sliced or cut into smaller pieces or portions before storing them in the refrigerator or freezer. Turkey legs, wings, and thighs may be left whole. Refrigerated leftover foods should be used within 3-5 days. Most frozen items should be used within two months, so date them when placing them in the freezer.

Take-out and delivery can work well for you in a pinch. Just take care of it after you take possession of it and remain safe at home.

Randy DeVaul

Posted on January 26, 2019 13:24

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