Gerber Life Family Times --- News and tips for familes of all ages and stages of life

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Make sure that meal “on the go” is a safe one for your entire family.


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Get It To-Go!
Make sure that “on the go” meal is a safe one for your entire family.

Gerber Life Family Times Archive

ImageThe keyword for families today seems to be “hectic”. Parents today have to juggle a a full-time work schedule while transporting kids between school and extra-curricular activities, household duties, paying bills, cleaning, laundry, and squeezing in “quality” family time and sleep. It’s a nearly impossible feat to accomplish day in and day out. Over time, something has to fall by the wayside and for many, family meals around the dinner table have become a rarity. Having the time to come home after work and prepare a dinner is a luxury many of us have to forego. Instead, dinner today is an afterthought squeezed in while in transit. Our cars and minivans have become the dining rooms of the new millennium as we pick up to-go orders and eat on the run.

Since our desire to squeeze as much as possible into a day doesn’t seem to be diminishing, when dinner is served, it will be in or on Styrofoam. But the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) notes that perishable foods can cause illness when mishandled and that the proper handling of food and leftovers is essential to ensure a safe on-the-go dining experience. For families that rely mostly on meals to-go and leftovers, the USDA offers some important tips for safe handling of foods:

  • Bacteria grow rapidly in food between 40°F and 140°F.
  • To keep hot foods safe, keep them at 140°F or above.
  • Use a food thermometer to watch the internal temperature of the food.
  • Just keeping food warm (between 40°F and 140°F) is not safe.
  • Food should be kept in a preheated oven, chafing dish, preheated warming tray, or slow cooker.
  • To keep cold foods safe, keep them at 40°F or below.
  • Refrigerate perishable foods as soon as possible and always within 2 hours after purchase or delivery.
  • If the food is in air temperatures above 90°F, refrigeration is required within 1 hour.
  • Discard any perishable foods (casseroles, eggs, meat, poultry, etc.) that have been left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F).
  • When saving leftovers to be eaten at a later time, divide the food into smaller portions, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate.

The Food and Drug Administration offers the following tips on reheating leftovers:

  • Heat food until it is hot and steaming (at least 165° F/74° Celsius).
  • Bring gravy to a rolling boil.
  • When reheating food in a microwave oven, cover the food and stir it for even cooking and heat distribution. Turn the dish once or twice by hand during the reheating process. Cold spots in reheated food can let germs live and cause illness.
  • If you will be longer than 2 hours getting home, the FDA advises leaving the leftovers behind.

In our hectic daily schedule it is easy to forget how quickly time passes, but when it comes to food storage, time and temperature are too important to forget. Treat take-out meals and leftovers with care and you can rest assured that your family’s busy schedule won’t be brought to a screeching halt from eating spoiled food. As the USDA reminds us: When in doubt—throw it out!

Consult with your family physician or health care provider regarding this or any other family health concerns.

United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service—
Food and Drug Administration Office of Women’s Health—

Articles are provided for the general interest of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have concerning any financial or health related issues.

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