Food safety in the home
If you are going to store leftovers in the fridge, cool them as quickly as possible, ideally within 90 minutes. Cover them, get them in the fridge and then eat them within two days.
Make sure your fridge is operating at the correct temperature, it should be below 5oC.
You can also freeze your leftovers, but cool them first to minimise temperature fluctuation in your freezer. They can be safely stored in the freezer almost indefinitely, but the quality will still deteriorate gradually with time, so it's best to eat them within three months.
Eat leftovers within 24 hours of defrosting and do not refreeze them again.
The only exception to this is if you are defrosting raw food, such as meat or poultry, which can be refrozen once it has been cooked.
Cook leftovers until steaming hot throughout.
For ideas on both practical and creative things to do with leftovers, check our Love Food, Hate Waste pages.
- keep yourself and your kitchen clean by washing and drying your hands thoroughly before preparing food, after touching raw food (especially meat) and after going to the toilet
- make sure you keep worktops, chopping boards and utensils clean. If they've been touched by raw meat, poultry or eggs, you'll need to wash them thoroughly
- don't forget to change dish cloths and tea towels regularly. They may look clean, but they're the perfect place for germs to breed
- make sure meat and poultry is thoroughly defrosted
- make sure poultry, pork, burgers and sausages are cooked all the way through
- when reheating, take extra care your food is cooked all the way through
- don't reheat food more than once
- avoid keeping meat, poultry and dairy produce at room temperature
- keep your fridge between 0 - 5 degrees centigrade
- remember to turn your fridge to a colder setting if you are stocking it more than usual
- wait for food to cool before putting it in the fridge
To avoid cross-contamination:
- keep raw and cooked foods separate
- never use the same chopping board or knife for raw meat and ready to eat food without washing thoroughly in between
- don't wash meat or poultry before cooking it. Washing does not get rid of harmful germs - only cooking it will
- don't let raw meat drip onto other foods - keep it in sealed containers at the bottom of the fridge