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Doggie Bag Dilemma: Leftovers Need Quick Refrigeration

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Doggie bags can make dining out twice as nice -- unless you are the one out of every four diners who gets food poisoning from leftovers.

Most people do not realize there is a brief window to get leftovers from the restaurant to the refrigerator.

How soon after eating out do you eat your "doggie bag" leftovers? Later that day Next day Days later Forget, throw away Don't get leftovers

"It's two hours from the time the meal is served to you -- not when they pack it up and bring it to your table," said Lynn Hoggard, a registered dietitian and WRAL Health Team nutritionist.

For those who need more time, Hoggard -- a frequent doggie bagger herself -- has some advice.

"I often take a long a small cooler with a few plastic bags inside. I just ask the wait staff to put ice in the bags and then I surround these bags by the food."

Doggie bag food usually has a shorter shelf life than other leftovers. Hoggard said restaurant foods are best eaten within 24 hours.

If the food was served hot, it should be reheated until it is piping hot -- at least 165° Fahrenheit.

A lot of people make the mistake of leaving their leftovers in the car. No matter what the temperature, if the sun is out, the heat it generates will shorten the two-hour window.


Terry Cantrell, Photographer
Andrea Moody, Producer
Michelle Singer, Web Editor

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