How to Safely Handle and Store Leftovers to Prevent Food Poisoning


Leftovers are a great way to enjoy your favorite meals again without having to cook from scratch. However, improper handling and storage of leftovers can lead to food poisoning. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to follow some simple guidelines for safely handling and storing leftovers.

Handling Leftovers Safely

When handling leftovers, it’s important to keep a few key points in mind to prevent foodborne illness:

  • Wash your hands before and after handling leftovers to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Use clean utensils and containers when storing leftovers to avoid introducing bacteria.
  • Reheat leftovers to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill any bacteria that may be present.
  • Do not leave leftovers out at room temperature for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F).

Storing Leftovers Properly

Proper storage is crucial for keeping leftovers safe to eat. Follow these tips to ensure your leftovers stay fresh and free from harmful bacteria:

  • Store leftovers in shallow containers to allow for quick and even cooling.
  • Label containers with the date the leftovers were prepared to track how long they have been in the fridge.
  • Keep leftovers in the refrigerator at or below 40°F to slow the growth of bacteria.
  • Do not overcrowd the fridge, as this can prevent air from circulating properly and lead to uneven cooling.

Preventing Food Poisoning from Leftovers

By following these guidelines for handling and storing leftovers, you can greatly reduce the risk of food poisoning. Remember to always use your best judgment when deciding whether leftovers are safe to eat. When in doubt, throw it out!


Leftovers can be a convenient and delicious way to enjoy your favorite meals again, but it’s important to handle and store them safely to prevent food poisoning. By following proper guidelines for handling and storing leftovers, you can ensure that your meals stay fresh and free from harmful bacteria. Remember to always wash your hands, use clean utensils and containers, reheat leftovers to the proper temperature, and store them in the fridge at or below 40°F. By taking these simple steps, you can enjoy your leftovers with peace of mind knowing that they are safe to eat.


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