Shape Magazine November 2011 cover

4 Tips for Safely Handling Leftovers

Shape Magazine November 2011

Shape magazine

Could storing and reheating leftovers be detrimental to your health? Shape magazine gives the scoop.

My Great Aunt Grace whips up a mean homemade banana pudding. When we get together for a family meal, whether on a special occasion or a simple Sunday afternoon, I’m not sure she’d be allowed in the door without the pudding in hand.

Thankfully, she makes plenty. So much so that there is usually enough for a few of us to take a bowlful home for later. But could a leftover bowl of pudding make me sick? I shudder to think …

No one wants to be down for the count with an upset stomach brought on by foodborne illness. Now that we’re through the holidays, I remember an article I read in the November issue of Shape magazine that had our health in mind. Now it has me wondering if it’s safe to eat leftovers like Aunt Grace’s banana pudding. According to Shape, eating leftovers is safe–as long as we follow four simple steps.

Suzanne Driessen, food safety educator with the University of Minnesota Extension, suggested the following to the readers of Shape:

  1. Food should go from stove to fridge in no more than two hours–and that totally includes the 45 minutes that it sits on the table. Any more than two hours and you risk bacterial growth.
  2. Chill leftovers quickly. To do so, store them in shallow dishes and make sure there is plenty of room between containers for cold air to circulate.
  3. Think days, not weeks. Driessen says foods like stuffing and gravy should be tossed out or frozen within two days. Meat, poultry and other sides within four.
  4. Reheat thoroughly. Leftovers meant to be eaten warm should be heated to 165 degrees.

And Grace’s leftover banana pudding should be eaten before anyone else knows you have it in the house. It’s just safer that way.