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Hicks Column: Restaurant Leftover Safety Tips and Healthy Texas Youth Ambassador

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Johanna Hicks

By Johanna HicksTexas A&M AgriLife Extension, Family & Community Health Agent, Hopkins County

Restaurant Leftover Safety Tips

Meeting friends at a restaurant is common among many folks who enjoy socializing. My husband and I will often share an entrée, but every now and then we have more food than we can eat. 

Bringing home leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day is becoming ordinary again. Don’t invite bacteria to your next meal. 

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service gives some food safety tips so you can enjoy your restaurant leftovers without getting foodborne illness:

  1. If you plan to go to a movie or be out and about after eating at a restaurant, then you should skip taking the leftovers. Perishable foods should be brought directly home because the faster food gets into the refrigerator, the lower the likelihood of bacterial growth.
  2. Meat and poultry leftovers that are handled properly may be safely refrigerated at 40ᵒ F up to 4 days. Eggs and lunch meats that are handled properly may be safely stored at 40ᵒ F up to 5 days. For best quality, cooked meat and poultry leftovers in sealed containers may be stored in the freezer at 0ᵒ F or below for 2 to 6 months.
  3. When reheating in the microwave, place foods on a microwave safe plate. Food items should be spread evenly and stirred halfway through heating to avoid cold spots. If you reheat all of your leftovers but don’t finish the entire portion, refrigerate what’s left immediately so it can be safely reheated again.
  4. Warning — reheating in slow cookers isn’t recommended because foods may be sitting too long in the “Danger Zone” (40ᵒ F – 140ᵒ F).
  5. When reheating meat and poultry in the oven, the temperature should be no lower than 325ᵒ F.
  6. When reheating leftovers, use a food thermometer to check the food’s internal temperature. The food is safe to eat once it reaches 165ᵒ F.
  7. Soups, sauces, gravies, etc., should be reheated to a boil.
  8. Do not use the Styrofoam carry-out containers to reheat food. Foods show be placed in an appropriate dish to withstand the temperatures needed to assure safety.

And a word of caution—never taste food to determine its safety. You can’t see or taste harmful bacteria.  When in doubt, throw it out!

 Rylie Carroll, Hopkins County, helps lead a session at the East Region Healthy Texas Youth Ambassador training in Tyler, on the new DanceFit curriculum. 

Healthy Texas Youth Ambassador

Congratulations to Rylie Carroll, Hopkins County’s Healthy Texas Youth Ambassador (HYTA).  She recently assisted with a training in Tyler for the East Region HYTA on a new Extension program called DanceFit. 

The program consists of 6 lessons, along with recipes to encourage heart health and physical activity.

The curriculum also comes with dance steps to fit popular songs such as “Eye of the Tiger,” “YMCA,” “Despicable Me,” “Waca Waca,” and “Celebration,” along with many more. 

Rylie led the other youth ambassadors in the dance steps. By the smiles on their faces, it appeared that everyone had a great time.

As school gets underway soon, teachers may contact the Extension office to find out more about this program. I will be glad to assist!

Closing Thought

Rest when you’re tired.  Take a drink of cold water when you’re thirsty. Call a friend when you’re lonely. Ask God to help when you feel overwhelmed

Melodie Beattie

Contact Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed., Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, P.O. Box 518, 1200-B W. Houston St, Sulphur Springs, TX, 75483; 903-885-3443; or [email protected]

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Author: Ross LaBenske

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