Imagine, its late and night and your tummy is rumbling. Where do you turn, to the refrigerator of course. You open the door and the light illuminates your booty. Before you grab that quinoa salad or slice of pizza you should ask yourself, how long has it been in there? Good food safety habits are not just for restaurants and manufacturers. Food safety should be an integral part in every household.
According to ServSafe Coursebook by the National Restaurant Association, ready-to-eat TCS food can be stored for only seven days if it is held at 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Time for some definitions.
A ready-to-eat food is exactly that! A TCS food is any food requiring time and temperature control to limit pathogen growth; hence “time and temperature control for food safety.” TCS foods include all your leftovers, cut up fruit, all dairy and meat products, cooked rice, tofu, baked potatoes, and the list goes on.
Pathogens are the scary biological things that contaminate your food and include, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites – yuk! Your TCS food, like that slice of pizza is only good for seven days. The count begins on the day that food was prepared or when you peeled back seal on that container of hummus. For example, your leftover potato salad from Sunday’s cookout will need to be eaten by the following Saturday.
Remember, your refrigerator needs to be set at or below 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Proper refrigeration slows the growth of most bacteria. If your food has been in there too long, these bacteria can grow enough to cause illness. Have you checked your fridge’s temperature lately? Follow these simple food safety rules and your late-night snacking won’t give you nightmares.