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Publication #FAR8708

Food Safety for Take-Out and Delivered Meals1

Amy Simonne2

In today's hectic world it can be challenging for many families to make time for everyone and everything. It is no surprise that many American families have already replaced home food preparation and cooking with eating out, taking out, or delivery.

To protect your family, it's important to follow proper handling of these foods. Any perishable foods can cause illness when they are not handled properly, even if they were prepared according to the sanitary standards. In order to reduce risk from these foods, here are a few tips your family can follow.

First, keep hot food hot and cold food cold! Once food is cooked, the hot food should have an internal temperature of 140° or hotter, and the cold foods must be kept at 40° or colder. This is because bacteria can grow rapidly between temperatures of 40°-140°. Discard all perishable foods such as meat, fish, cut fruits, casserole, or cooked rice left at room temperature longer than two hours. But during summer months, if the air temperature is above 90°, those foods should be discarded after spending only one hour at that temperature (United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service 2003).

If you are not eating the take-out or delivered food right away, store it in shallow containers in your refrigerator. Since most food has a limited shelf life, mark it with a date label to help remind you how long the food has been in the refrigerator. Taking a few quick steps can help protect your family from foodborne illness.

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United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service. (2003). Safe food handling: Safe handling of take-out foods. Retrieved 25 September 20012, from



This document is FAR8708, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 212 and published February 2008. Revised April 2008. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Amy Simonne, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.