Safely Pick Up, Store, and Reheat Carryout Meals
When it comes to food safety with takeout or grab-and-go meals, focus on three steps to keeping food safe: clean, cook, chill. Read our free tip sheet.
Food Safety Tips for Takeout Containers
- Take food out of containers or bags using clean silverware or tongs, and place it on a clean plate, bowl, or in storage containers before eating.
- Throw out containers and bags immediately. Clean and sanitize all surfaces the packaging came into contact with.
- Bleach Sanitizer Wash hands with soap and water before eating.
- Wash hands with soap and water. Wash any surfaces that come in contact with food or what the food was picked up or delivered in.
- Ask for contactless delivery. This can prevent transferring harmful germs from person to person.
- Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables that come with the meal.
- Keep hot foods hot. If a meal is received hot, eat it right away or keep it hot at 140°F or above until you are ready to eat it. Always use a food thermometer to make sure the food is at a safe temperature.
- Two-Hour Rule: Cooked food should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. It only takes two hours for harmful bacteria to multiply to a quantity that could cause foodborne illnesses.
Keep hot food hot at home
- Move food from takeout containers into a skillet, pot, or sauces pan, and keep food hot on the stovetop.
- Use the oven. Preheat the oven and place food on an oven-safe pan or dish. Cover with aluminum foil to prevent food from drying out.
- Place cooked food in a preheated slow cooker to keep hot. Never reheat food in a cold slow cooker.
If the meal will not be eaten right away, divide it into smaller portions and store in the refrigerator. Use shallow food-safe containers, no more than four inches deep. Use a food thermometer to reheat food to 165°F, no matter the food or method.
- If reheating in the microwave, cover and rotate food, so it is cooked evenly.
- When reheating gravies, sauces, and soups, bring to a boil.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator 3 to 4 days.
Temperatures to Remember when Reheating
- 40°F: Refrigerator temperature and storage temperature for cold food and leftovers
- 140°F: Keep hot foods at this minimum
- 165°F: Reheat all food to this temperature
If a meal is received cold, it should be kept at a temperature of 40°F or below.
How to safely keep food cold
- Keep refrigerator set at 40°F or below.
- Store items immediately in the refrigerator until use. If a fridge isn’t available, store cold food in small portions surrounded by ice or ice packs.
- Check food temperatures using a food thermometer to ensure food is staying at 40°F or below.
Foods to Store in the Refrigerator
- Raw or cooked meat, poultry, and fish (this includes deli meat, egg, and tuna salad)
- Dairy products, such as cottage cheese, sour cream, yogurt, and milk
- Fresh, peeled and/or cut fruits and vegetables
- Cooked vegetables, pasta, and rice