Food storage safety tips

Trying to stay home to flatten the curve? That might mean more time in the kitchen preparing meals. Here are some tips on food storage safety to help prevent food-borne illnesses.

Trying to stay home to flatten the curve? That might mean more time in the kitchen preparing meals. Roberta Anding, assistant professor and performance dietitian for the Comprehensive Health Care Clinic at Baylor College of Medicine, answers some questions about food storage to help prevent food-borne illnesses.

How long can deli meats be refrigerated?

Sealed packages of deli meat are safe in your refrigerator for two weeks, but when they are opened, plan to use them within 3 to 5 days

How long can most meats be frozen?

This depends on the meat. Some meats, such as bacon and sausage, can be frozen for 1 to 2 months. Ground beef remains safe to use for 1 to 2 months in the freezer as well. Steaks and pork chops, since they are not ground, can be frozen for about 3 to 4 months.

If you don’t’ plan on using the fresh meat within 3 to 4 days, play it safe and freeze right away.

Can I freeze eggs?

Eggs can be frozen, just not in the shell. Crack them and mix the yolk and the white together and then freeze in an ice cube tray. Each frozen cube is equal to about one egg.

How long can I store dairy and/or formula?

Some highly perishable foods like dairy may go bad prior to the dates on the carton, especially if the food has been exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees. Keeping the temperature in your refrigerator at or below 40 degrees can help to keep your foods safe for a longer period of time.

When purchasing milk, some brands will use ultra-high temperature pasteurization, which has the advantage of a longer shelf life, longer than six months. These milks are found on the pantry shelfs and not in the refrigerator case. Organic milks in the refrigerated cases also can be ultra-high temperature pasteurized and can have an extended shelf life as well but must stay refrigerated.

How long can I store food I have cooked?

Promptly refrigerate leftovers in shallow dishes. Do not let leftovers cool off before putting them in the fridge. The longer the food sits out, the more likely it is to harbor bacteria. Food should be refrigerated within two hours of serving.

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days, or consider freezing leftovers to extend their food safety window.

How should I reheat frozen foods?

Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature is correct.

When heating up leftover soups or gravy, bring it to a boil.

Find more information on food safety.

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