More often than not we cook more than we consume or order way too much food, and end up having leftovers.
There are certain foods that you can keep for later consumption, but not all are safe. If you don’t handle leftovers well, you will be susceptible to foodborne illnesses.
Do you know how long you can keep leftovers in the refrigerator and at what temperature? If not, you shouldn’t take a chance with the leftovers.
Here are some reasons why you should decide against eating leftovers.
1. Microorganisms overload
When we cook or order food and don’t consume it the same time, there lies the risk of an overload of bacteria and other micro-organisms. The food is not refrigerated immediately but refrigerated after it has reached room temperature. This practice causes the micro-organisms to multiply and spoil the food.
2. Cross contamination
The food ‘with bacteria and other micro-organisms’ overload/leftovers when put in refrigerator with other foodstuff can contaminate other foods in the refrigerator. The foods that you think are stored safely get spoiled and increase your chances of developing illnesses.
3. Loss of nutrients
Refrigerating food for long time results in loss of nutrients. With loss of nutrients, foods are rendered useless. Therefore, it is important that you avoid storing leftovers for a long time.
What should be done with leftovers?
- Never refrigerate leftovers for more than three days.
- If it is meat food, keep them covered in the refrigerator or else separate from other raw foods.
- When you are to eat leftovers, ensure you reheat them properly to approximately 70 degree Celsius before consuming.
- Don’t get tempted and rush to taste food that has been stored for a long time.
- When reheating in the microwave, cover and rotate the food for even heating.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Frozen foods can be kept for 3 months. Even though they would be safe for consumption, you may lose moisture and flavour on storage for longer durations.