Experts reveal best way to reheat leftovers to avoid food poisoning

22 December 2020, 14:45

How to reheat your food safely
How to reheat your food safely. Picture: Getty Images
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

Food experts have warned about reheating leftovers in the microwave.

After an indulgent festive period, you might be wondering the best way to store and heat your leftovers safely.

Well, despite fears around food poisoning, spokesperson for the Food Safety Information Council, Lydia Buchtmann recently revealed you can reheat most leftovers - including chicken - as many times as you like.

But speaking to SBS, she warned it’s important that you make sure it's piping hot all the way through, reaching 75 degrees celsius or above.

The only reliable way to ensure this is reached, is to use a food thermometer.

Lydia also added that you should only keep leftovers in the fridge for two to three days before eating them.

It's important to make sure your food is piping hot
It's important to make sure your food is piping hot. Picture: PA Images

There are some exceptions to this, as people who are pregnant, elderly or have compromised immune systems should stick to chucking them away after 24 hours.

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When it comes to your method for eating leftovers, many people might head straight for the microwave.

But science journalist Michael Mosley said it can heat food unevenly, so it’s best to stop and stir your dish regularly throughout.

You can also put any leftovers in the oven, making sure to use a thermometer to check the temperature before eating.

If you want to heat food up on the hob, you should also leave it bubbling away for 10 to 20 minutes.

What foods should you avoid reheating?

There are a few things you should avoid reheating.

According to BBC, cooked rice can be contaminated by a bacterium called Bacillus cereus which can make you ill.

To avoid this growing, Lydia advises dividing leftovers into small containers to allow it to cool quickly, before putting it straight into the fridge or freezer.

Experts also advise you eat cooked rice as soon as possible, and make sure every part of the dish is piping hot.

And it’s not just rice that can make you ill, as the Food and Drug Administration also advised that reheating eggs that have been sitting around can be dangerous.

According to the FDA, dishes containing eggs shouldn't be kept out of the refrigerator for more than two hours either.

They also state that fresh or cooked seafood that has spent any time at room temperature might be harbouring bacteria that can cause sickness.

Reheating may not kill these bacteria so it should be discarded if left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.

Oily foods are also not advised to be heated in the microwave.

Livestrong states that different oils have different heat tolerances, and if you heat an oil beyond a safe level it can produce toxic fumes.

Therefore, foods with a lot of oil shouldn’t be put in the microwave, so it's best to cook it low and slow in the oven or not at all. 

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