Having leftovers might be common amongst those who wish to save that extra buck and time. While it is good to do so, having leftover food that is left too long in or out of the refrigerator might pose a health hazard.
Leftover foods are usually a combination of mixed food groups. Hence, a rule of thumb is to spot the ingredient amongst the leftovers that spoils the fastest. For instance, prawn noodles would only last as long as the prawns could. Check the following categories to see which ingredients are of higher risk than the other.
Of course, if you are unsure what goes into your food, it is best to trash them after 4 hours left in the open or within 3 days in the refrigerator.
High Risk Foods
Foods that have protein and moisture content pose a higher risk in food poisoning. Such conditions are usually very favourable for microorganisms to thrive.
Meat and poultry
Thoroughly cooked ground meat and poultry can last for about 1-2 days in the refrigerator that is stored less than 5 degree Celsius. Fillets, steaks and roasts should last 3-4 days in the refrigerator. If meat has been thawed, they should be cooked within 2 days. Never thaw it out of the refrigerator. If, a microwave is used, cook it immediately after.
Egg, seafood, liquids (soups and stews)
Eggs pose very high risks as they could transmit Salmonella, a bacterium. Hard-boiled eggs with their shells still intact should be consumed within 7 days.
Seafood can be a great shelter for many pathogens and toxins that could make people really sick. They should be consumed within 3 days.
Liquids like soups and stews, regardless if there are pieces of meat or not, they should be consumed within 3-4 days refrigerated.
Medium risk foods
Pasta and grains
Cooked grains and pasta will keep for up to 3 days in the chiller or 3 months if frozen after cooking them. However, attention should be brought to cooked rice. Rice carries Bacillus cereus spores. The bacterium produces toxins that can result in foodborne illnesses.
Lower risk foods
Fruits and vegetables
Fresh cut fruits could last about 3-5 days. However, some fruits are very susceptible to browning. That is when it loses its appeal and start to deteriorate.
Fruits and vegetables with higher water contents, like cucumber, tomato, watermelon, berries lose their freshness faster compared to those with lesser, such as bananas and broccoli.
When fruits and vegetables are cooked and stored in an airtight container, they tend to last between 3-7 days in the refrigerator. Canned vegetables that are cooked can last between 7-10 days while canned vegetables in brine or water should be thrown away once opened within 2 days when stored properly.
Interesting in living a healthy lifestyle by eating healthily? Check out our meal plans!