Date PostedOctober 8, 2012

Food Safety Update: Eating Out Tips

How Safe Are Doggy Bags?

Most restaurants offer “doggy bags” for customers who can’t finish their meal but how safe is the food in the doggy bag and how long afterwards can it be eaten?

Well doggy bags may be convenient for those with smaller appetites but if the food is stored correctly it can present food safety issues that may affect the health of the customer. That is why the proper handling of the doggy bag food once it leaves the restaurant is so important to prevent health consequences, this is the responsibility of the consumer not the restaurant.

The main issue involved with doggy bags is temperature control. Properly controlling the temperature which the food is stored at will prevent the multiplication of bacteria in the food.

The “danger-zone” temperature for food storage is between 5-60 degrees and this is the optimum temperature for bacteria to grow. It is best to keep hot food at 60oC or higher and cold food at 5oC or lower even once you have taken food home from the restaurant.

The problem with doggy bags is that they are often taken away while in the temperature danger zone and eaten several hours or even days after the food was prepared. For this reason it is vital to refrigerate the “doggy bag” as soon as you get home.

In order to minimise the risk of food poisoning of doggy-bags food outlets should put left over food into new, unused food grade containers. The restaurant staff should also warn customers about the safe storage and handling of food to prevent foodborne illness.

Consumers should remember to refrigerate food as soon as they get home and if food is left out of the fridge for more than hours it should be discarded and not eaten. Consumers should heat food to steaming hot when rewarming for at least 2 minutes to kill any bacteria that may have grown.

Foodborne illness can be both painful and inconvenient as it results in time of work and trips to the doctors. The best thing to do in order to avoid eating contaminated left overs is to remember the bacteria that cause food poisoning grow between 5oC and 60oC which is known as the temperature “danger zone”.  Food should be stored below this temperature and heated to above these temperatures before eating.

Keep cold food in the fridge until you are ready to cook and serve and it is best to eat food steaming hot. The doggy bag should not be left in the danger zone for over 2 hours and if it has, it should be thrown away. Also remember that you don’t know how long before serving the food the restaurant prepared it, so food may be older than you think and therefore may be close to contamination.

Source : naotakem

It is a general rule of food safety that food is cooked thoroughly before serving especially poultry, minced meats, and sausages. These meats should be cooked until well done, right through to the centre and there should be no pink visible in the centre.

Leftovers must be refrigerated as soon as possible and when reheating leftovers, they should be made steaming hot before consumption. Remember if it doubt, discard the left overs rather than eating contaminated food.


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