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It's not just a habit: why yesterday's soup must be boiled

Prepared food is an ideal environment for bacterial growth. Source: Created with the help of AI

Freshly prepared food tastes better, but not everyone has time to stand at the stove three times a day. That's why we often cook in advance so that we can just take out the finished dish, reheat it, and eat. But how sure are you that your food is safe enough?

The first step to keeping ready meals safe is to store them in the refrigerator. But even while the pan is cooling to room temperature, potentially dangerous bacteria can start to grow in it before it gets to the refrigerator. OBOZ.UA figured out what to do to protect yourself from them.

How quickly should you refrigerate food?

Bacteria that cause food spoilage can double their number in warm and humid conditions in just 20 minutes. And these are the conditions that a cooked dish provides them with. To protect yourself from their effects, refrigerate the pan or freeze the leftovers within two hours of cooking. This is enough time for the food to cool to an acceptable level.

Also, be sure to put a lid on the pot or container before placing it in the refrigerator. If you don't have a lid, wrap the container in cling film. This way, you will block the access of oxygen to the food, which is a prerequisite for the growth of bacteria. Also, make sure that the temperature in the refrigerator does not exceed 5 degrees.

How long can chilled food be stored safely?

If the temperature in the refrigerator is properly adjusted, the growth of bacteria in the food will be effectively suppressed. But even under these conditions, the shelf life of food cannot be unlimited. Food should be consumed within two days. During this time, it is considered safe.

What is the safe way to reheat leftovers?

When you reheat leftovers, you should make sure that the food is fully heated. In the middle of the dish, the temperature should be at least 74 degrees. It is best to bring sauces, stews, soups, and gravies to a full boil and then stir over the heat for at least three minutes. This method will kill most bacteria and inactivate any heat-sensitive bacterial toxins present.

If you reheat leftovers in the oven, choose a temperature of at least 165 degrees. And bake the food long enough to kill all bacteria. If you are reheating leftovers in the microwave, you should also make sure that the internal temperature reaches 74°C before consuming the food. Reheating food in the slow cooker is not recommended.

Can I reheat leftovers more than once?

Experts do not recommend reheating food that has already been reheated once. Each time food is heated and cooled, it provides favorable conditions for the re-growth of harmful bacteria. It will be more difficult to eliminate them when reheated and will take longer.

Can I reheat takeout food?

It all depends on how the food was stored before it got to your table. If it has been lying around at room temperature for more than two hours, it can be dangerous. Therefore, it must be warmed up. A warm dish that has been stored for a short time is best consumed immediately.

Similarly, you need to reheat food from delivery if you have stored it in the refrigerator. Like home-cooked food, such products should not be kept in the refrigerator for more than two days.

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