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Have you ever gone out to dinner, left with a doggie bag and then let it sit in the car while you went to a movie? Or have you ever brought food home from a BBQ that had already been sitting out for several hours? Well this could be making you sick!

Many years ago, I had taken my kids on a trip to the beach and on our way home, we visited our favorite sub shop and got lunch to go. I wasn’t very hungry at the time so I figured I would eat my sub once we hit the turnpike.

Well, we decided to make a stop at the local miniature golf place to play a quick round before heading out. I left my freshly made tuna (yes, I said tuna) sub in the car for about an hour in the middle of August. We finally made it to the turnpike and I tore into that sub like it was nobody’s business.

Needless to say, I spent an excruciating couple of days in the hospital with a severe case of food poisoning from my sub. The reality is that it wasn’t the restaurants fault, it was mine and boy did I pay for it!

Can you relate to that story? I’m guessing that on some level you can so I’d like to save you all the pain and discomfort by giving you some information about how to safely handle leftovers or take-out food.

The Two-Hour Rule

Throw out any and all perishable foods left out for more than 2 hours total time. Throw away after 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F (like my tuna sub)

Other Rules:

•  Bring leftovers and or takeout from restaurants home immediately. Keep in mind that all the time the food sat out at the restaurant and spent on the ride home counts toward the 2 hours allowed

•  If you know you can’t make it home with in the safety of 2 hours, be prepared and bring and insulated cooler with ice packs to hold the food safely

•  After bringing food home from a restaurant, immediately store in the refrigerator. Make sure your refrigerator’s temperature is between 38°F and 41°F.

•  Reheating Your Leftovers:

•  When reheating leftovers, it is important that you heat the food to the proper temperature

•  Solid leftovers should be reheated to 165°F

•  Soups, sauces and gravies should be heated quickly to a rolling boil