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Food Safety: Serving - Topic Overview

You can help prevent food poisoning by taking precautions when serving food.

  • Keep hot foods hot [140°F (60°C) or above] and cold foods cold [40°F (4°C) or below].
  • Never leave meat, poultry, eggs, fish, or shellfish (raw or cooked) at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If the temperature outdoors is above 90°F (32°C), refrigerate within 1 hour. (This is often the case during summer picnics.)
  • Chill leftovers as soon as you finish eating.
  • Store leftovers in small, shallow containers to cool rapidly.
  • Do not reheat food that is contaminated. Reheating does not make it safe.
  • If you are not sure how long a food has been in the refrigerator, throw it out.
  • If you are not sure whether a food is safe, throw it out.

When you eat out, be sure that meat is cooked thoroughly and that foods that should be refrigerated, such as puddings and cold cuts, are served cold. Also pay attention to the restaurant environment. If the tables, dinnerware, and restrooms look dirty, the kitchen may be too.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 18, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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