Food Safety FAQ

How long can I keep leftovers in the fridge?

Leftovers can be kept for two to five days in the refrigerator depending on the item. Be sure to eat them within that time. After that time period the risk of food poisoning increases. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat leftovers within four days, freeze them immediately. Please refer to the chart below for proper storage times.

Recommended Storage Timefor Refrigerated Food:

 0 – 4 degrees Celsius

(32 to 40 degrees F)

Refrigerated Food Maximum Storage Period (in days)
Ground Meat 2-3
Roasts/Steaks 3-5
Bacon/wieners 6-7
Poultry 2-3
Fish/Shellfish 1-2
Leftover egg yolk/white 1-2
Luncheon Meats 3-5
Leftover cooked meats/gravy 1-2
Stuffing 1-2

What is food poisoning?

Food poisoning — also called foodborne illness — is caused by harmful organisms, such as bacteria in contaminated food. Because bacteria typically doesn’t change the taste, smell or look of food, you can’t tell whether a food is dangerous to eat. So if you’re in doubt about a food’s safety, it’s best to throw it out.

How can I prevent food poisoning?

Fortunately, most cases of food poisoning can be prevented with proper food handling. To practice food safety, quickly refrigerate perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs — don’t let them sit more than two hours at typical room temperature or more than one hour at temperatures above 90 F (32 C).

Uncooked foods, such as cold salads or sandwiches, also should be eaten or refrigerated promptly. Your goal is to minimize the time a food is in the “danger zone” — between 40 and 140 F (4 and 60 C) — when bacteria can quickly multiply.

When you’re ready to eat leftovers, reheat them on the stove, in the oven or in the microwave until the internal temperature reaches 165 F (74 C). Because they may not get hot enough, slow cookers and chafing dishes aren’t recommended for reheating leftovers.

What is the Danger Zone?

The danger zone is a temperature range where pathogens multiply rapidly. The danger zone is between 4 degrees C and 60 degrees Celsius (40 – 140 degrees F). Harmful bacteria can multiply at these temperatures.

What is the best way to store food safely?

There are many different important steps in proper food storage. By properly storing food and maintaining correct temperatures you will decrease the chances of food borne illness and keep your food fresher longer. Here are some important tips:

  1. Food stored in the fridge should be covered to prevent contamination from the air, condensation and drippings from other foods
  2. Ensure that your fridge is set to a temperature of 4 degrees C (40 degrees F)
  3. Ensure that your freezer is set to -18 degrees Celsius  (0 degrees F) or lower
  4. Bulk food items such as flour should be stored in covered bins to prevent dust, insects and any other type of material from entering

How can I tell if my food is cooked to the right temperature?

Cook foods to the correct internal temperature of 74 degrees C (165 degrees F) for a minimum time of 15 seconds. If the food you are cooking is large, insert a thermometer into the thickest area of the food item. Here are the safe minimum cooking temperatures:

Category Food

Temperature (°F) 

 
Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb

160

Turkey, Chicken

165

Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb Steaks, roasts, chops

145

Poultry Chicken & Turkey, whole

165

Poultry breasts, roasts

165

Poultry thighs, legs, wings

165

Duck & Goose

165

Stuffing

165

Pork and Ham Fresh pork

145

 Precooked ham (to reheat)

140

Eggs & Egg Dishes Eggs

Cook until yolk and white are firm

Egg dishes

160

Leftovers & Casseroles Leftovers

165

Casseroles

165

Seafood Fin Fish

145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.

Shrimp, lobster, and crabs

Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque.

Clams, oysters, and mussels

Cook until shells open during cooking.

Scallops

Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm.

How can I reheat food in a safe way?

Always reheat your food rapidly to a minimum of 74 degrees C (165 degrees F). The highest possible temperature should be used when reheating food. Using holding ovens, steam tables, and soup urns should never be used to warm up cold foods.

How long can I store foods in my freezer?

Recommended Storage Time for Frozen Food: 

-18 degrees C 

(0 degrees F)

Frozen Food Maximum Storage Period (Months)
Roasts/Steaks 3
Bacon/wieners 5
Poultry 5
Giblets 3
Fatty Fish (Salmon, Mackerel) 3
Shellfish 3
Other Fish 6
Leftover Meats/Gravy 3
Pre-cooked Combination Dishes 6
Bread Dough Containing Yeast 1
Cake Batter 4

How long should I store my dry foods?

Recommended Storage Timefor Dry Goods:

10 to 21 degrees C

(50 to 70 degrees F)

Food Maximum Storage Period (months)
Dry Yeast 18
Powdered Milk 4
Canned Goods 12
Cereal Grains 8
Spices 24
Dry Beans 24
Dried Fruit 8
James/Jellies 12
Nuts 12
Pickles 12
Flour 12

For more information:

www.foodsafe.ca

Discussion 4 comments

Gil Lowe says:

Great information.

Meridian Meats says:

Thanks Gil, glad to know that it is useful 🙂

VioletJolly says:

This article is very helpful.

Meridian Meats says:

Hi VioletJolly,

So glad to read that this is helpful! 🙂

Leave a Comment

All comments are held for moderation until approved by Meridian Meats. Your e-mail address will only be used for spam verification purposes.