Many people receive home delivered meals from churches, social organizations, senior assistance groups, or healthcare organizations. Hot or cold ready-prepared meals are perishable and can cause illness when mishandled. Proper handling is essential to ensure the food is safe to eat.
The “Danger Zone”
Leaving food out too long at room temperature can cause bacteria (such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and Campylobacter) to grow to dangerous levels that can cause illness.
Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the “Danger Zone.” Perishable foods left at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded. If temperatures are above 90 °F perishable foods should not be left out longer than one hour. Discard food after one hour if the temperature is above 90 °F.
Refrigerate delivered meals if you don’t plan to eat them immediately. You can reheat them when you are ready to eat. Follow these steps to refrigerate delivered meals:
REFRIGERATOR STORAGE AT 40 °F OR BELOW
You may wish to reheat your meal, whether it was purchased hot and then refrigerated or purchased cold initially.