The way we store and reheat leftovers could be putting us at risk of food poisoning, experts have warned.
While meat and dairy are known to carry bugs such as campylobacter, salmonella and listeria, other seemingly harmless foods can also make us ill if not stored properly.
Leaving cooked rice at room temperature gives the bacteria bacillus cereus the chance to flourish and produce dangerous toxins, the Good Housekeeping Institute said.
Experts there have issued a food safety guide, warning: “We all love leftovers, but they can be a health risk if not stored and reheated correctly. You need to know how to make sure that your money-saving dinner isn’t making you sick.”
One of their practical tips is to regularly stir food being microwaved so it’s not piping hot in parts but cold in others.
After cooking a meal, they advise that food be transferred into a shallow dish to help leftovers cool quickly.
It shouldn’t be left out of the fridge for more than two hours or be reheated twice, as this can lead to bacteria growth.
Another tip is to divide leftovers into individual portions, especially if freezing, as then it’s not necessary to defrost too much for a small meal.
The best way to store perishable food is in the original pack in a fridge colder than 5ºC. This simple step adds three days to the life of many foods, according to the official food waste advisers, Wrap.
BUT HERE’S HOW TO KEEP THEM FRESH!
* Rice: Let it cool for no longer than an hour and keep in the fridge no more than a day. Only reheat once.
* Chicken: Cover and leave to cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge for up to three days. Do not reheat more than once and make sure it is steaming hot throughout after reheating.
* Red meat: After cooking, it can be left in the fridge for a few days and eaten cold. If reheating, let it warm up to room temperature first.
* Potato: Any type of cooked potato will last up to three days in the fridge.
* Green veg: Can be eaten cold or reheated. Simply chill to room temperature after cooking and keep in the fridge for up to three days.
* Dairy: Leave in its container and keep in the fridge. If it’s been served in a glass or bowl, simply wrap the new container and return to the fridge.
* Cans: Metal from a tin may leach into food and leave a taste, so transfer to another container, cover and chill for up to three days.