Food Safety When Eating Out

Dinner and a movie date night? Ditch the leftovers, not your date!  Remember, leftovers are only safe for 2 hours at room temperature and won’t last through a movie – and only 1 hour if the temperature is over 90°F.

After that time, bacteria growth can occur and cause food illness. Likewise, during warmer months bacteria multiply faster – so keeping food safe is more challenging.

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Image Source: Shutterstock

Temperature Danger Zone (40°F – 140°F)

Bacteria grows rapidly between the temperatures of 40°F and 140°F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is called the “Danger Zone.”

Food Safety – Two-Hour Rule

The absolute maximum time for leaving prepared foods at room temperature is 2 hours—including time for preparation, serving and eating. (1 hour if the temperature is over 90°F).

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Food Safety Observations When Dining Out

Food can get contaminated anywhere – no matter who prepares the meal or where you eat it. It is essential to make some basic food safety observations when dining out – so as to prevent foodborne illness

The research found that among the cases foodborne illness outbreaks, for which there was a reported source of contamination, 70% were traced back to an ill food-service worker.

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Image Source: Shutterstock

Make some basic food safety observations when dining out:

  • Check Inspection Scores – Many state health departments make restaurant health inspection scores available on the web. Check the score before going to the restaurant  or check when you get there.
  • Make Sure the Restaurant Is Clean – Confirm that restaurant tables, floors, and utensils are clean. If not, you may want to take your business elsewhere.
  • Check That Your Food Is Cooked Thoroughly – Meat, fish, poultry, and eggs should be cooked thoroughly to kill germs. If food is served undercooked or raw, send it back.
  • Properly Handle Your Leftovers – Taking your food to go? Remember to refrigerate within 2 hours of eating out. If food is left in a hot car or temperatures above 90ºF, refrigerate it  within 1 hour. Eat leftovers within 3 to 4 days.
  • Download Infographic: Protect Yourself When Eating Out [PDF]
CDC - Food Safety - Protect Yourself When Eating Out
Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Summary

Understanding how to properly deal with leftovers can help you remain food safe and safe from food illness.

It’s also important to understand that food can get contaminated anywhere – no matter who prepares the meal or where you eat it. It is essential to make some basic food safety observations when dining out – so as to prevent foodborne illness.

 

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