Important Info

Food Safety Tips For Leftovers

Food Safety Tips

Important Food Safety Tips For Handling Leftovers

Many of us enjoy eating leftovers from holiday festivities, family gatherings or dining out. However, you must handle leftovers appropriately. Here are some essential food safety tips to help keep leftovers safe.

Handling Leftovers


Before and after handling leftovers, wash your hands and all utensils, dishes and work surfaces with hot soapy water. Use regular household sanitisers or a mild bleach solution (5 ml/1 tsp. bleach per 750 ml/3 cups water) – sanitise utensils, plates and work surfaces for added protection.

Keep foods out of the danger zone, between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F) to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Throw away any cooked food left at room temperature for over two hours. Never rely on your nose, eyes or taste buds to judge food safety. You cannot tell if food is contaminated by its look, smell or taste. When in doubt, throw it out!

Cooling Leftovers


Refrigerate all leftovers promptly in uncovered, shallow containers, so they cool quickly. First, cool off scorching items at room temperature.

Refrigerate once steaming stops. Leave the lid off or wrap loosely until the food is cooled to refrigeration temperature.

Avoid overstocking the refrigerator to allow cool air to circulate freely.

Storing Leftovers


Always use a clean container to hold the leftovers, or wrap the leftovers in leak-proof plastic bags to prevent cross-contamination.

Keep different types of leftovers separate. Eat refrigerated leftovers within 2 to 3 days, or freeze them later.

Date leftovers to help identify the contents and to ensure they are not stored too long.

Defrosting Leftovers


Thaw frozen leftovers in the refrigerator or the microwave. Consume or cook the leftovers immediately after they have thawed. Ensure food is properly sealed.


Place the container or platter on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to avoid leakage on other foods during thawing.


Before defrosting, remove food from any packaging or containers not identified as microwave-safe (such as plastic wrap, freezer cartons, and Styrofoam trays). Only use containers and wraps that are labelled as microwave-safe.

Use your microwave’s defrost setting and ensure leftovers are entirely defrosted before reheating. Use or eat the leftovers immediately after defrosting. Don’t re-freeze foods that you’ve defrosted in the microwave.

Reheating Leftovers



Bring gravies, soups and sauces to a full, rolling boil and stir. Reheat leftovers to a safe internal temperature of 74°C (165°F). Use a digital food thermometer to check the temperature. Discard uneaten leftovers after they have been reheated.


Use only containers and plastic wrap designed for use in the microwave. Loosen the lid or wrap to allow steam to escape. Stop the microwave midway through reheating and stir the food to distribute the heat evenly. Rotate the plate several times during cooking if your microwave has no rotating tray.

Shopping Basket
Scroll to Top