WHEN IS IT SAFE TO HEAT LEFTOVERS?
APRIL 28, 2019 @ 111.03 AM
Most of us are caught up with a full schedule – starting early mornings, preparing the children for school, getting dressed, sliding through the road congestion before and after work that we are left with little or no time at all to cook a wholesome meal for our families. Thus, many store up on processed food while some others decide to cook in large quantities which can then be divided through the week.
But, how long can we really store food and is this nutritious?
According to Wong Wen Yin, senior manager, Dietetic and Food Service Department, Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur, food can only be chilled for three days and not more.
“For households, I encourage more than one day – today you put in and tomorrow you should finish it.”
“You can’t deny that, to some degree, the nutrients will be lost. Some of the vitamins will definitely be lost. So the best is to cook in a big pot and divide it immediately into smaller portions and in small containers and allowed to cool, before storing it into the freezer. Even then, if you want to keep it for more than a day or two, try to put in the freezer. However, if you want to eat, say the next day, put it in the chiller.”
“Nevertheless, before storing it away, make sure that it remains untouched for that day. Don’t scope anything out to taste it.”
“Bacteria grows when food is left between five to 55 degrees Celsius which is the danger zone. When we cook food, the temperature is about 80 – 90 degrees. However, when they cool down, they will pass through the danger zone, so the bacteria will multiply. The longer you leave food in the danger zone, the faster the bacteria will grow.”
“That is why when food is left in a room temperature like this, it has to be consumed within four hours. Even then, the bacteria would have multiplied by the trillions,” she explained.
Wen Yin later emphasised that it is best to keep protein dishes consisting of fish, chicken and meat compared to vegetables which does not consume much time to cook.
Meanwhile, when it comes to carbohydrates such as rice, pasta and all, she said that the same applies.
“Make it in small portions, cook fast and put them in the freezer. But done deep freeze for quit long because it will get freezer burnt which will dehydrate the food. It will not taste nice and the nutrients will be lost too.”
“If it is divided into small portions of one tub and it is only meant for tomorrow’s dinner, just reheat and finish it so there are no side effects.”
“You will certainly wake up the bacteria and encourage it to multiply if you defrost a big tub, scoop out food, reheat, then freeze it again and reheat it again later,” she said.
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