Valentine’s Day is an occasion many of us dine out for an intimate evening and then maybe see a movie. Couples enjoy a delicious meal prepared for them at a restaurant and then relax with a movie at a theater.
However, just because someone else cooked for you, doesn’t mean you can let your guard down when it comes to food safety. Don’t let food illness make the occasion memorable for the wrong reasons. Leftovers are only safe for 2 hours at room temperature and won’t last through a movie.
Food can get contaminated anywhere – so it’s important to always follow sound food safety practices – no matter who prepares the meal or where you eat it.
The Two-Hour Rule & The Danger Zone (40°F – 140°F)
Bacteria grows rapidly between the temperatures of 40°F and 140°F. So, to prevent a foodborne illness, remember the two-hour rule.
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The absolute maximum time for leaving prepared foods at room temperature is 2 hours—including time for preparation, serving and eating. Discard any perishable foods left at room temperature longer than 2 hours. If you are eating outdoors at a picnic or cookout where temperatures are over 90°F, discard foods after 1 hour.
Food Safety Observations for Dining Out
For those treating their sweetheart to a romantic night out, follow some basic food safety observations to keep your date safe:
- Check Inspection Scores
Many state health departments make restaurant health inspection scores available on the web. Check the score before going to the restaurant or check when you get there.
- Make Sure the Restaurant Is Clean
Confirm that restaurant tables, floors, and utensils are clean. If not, you may want to take your business elsewhere.
- Check That Your Food Is Cooked Thoroughly
Meat, fish, poultry, and eggs should be cooked thoroughly to kill germs. If food is served undercooked or raw, send it back.
- Properly Handle Your Leftovers
Taking your food to go? Remember to refrigerate within 2 hours of eating out. If food is left in a hot car or temperatures above 90ºF, refrigerate it within 1 hour. Eat leftovers within 3 to 4 days.
Infographic (Protect Yourself When Eating Out):
- Download: Protect Yourself When Eating Out [PDF]