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Publication #FCS8912

Food Safety: Restaurant and Take-out Foods1

Jennifer Hillan and Amy Simonne2

Eating out is fun...but getting sick from restaurant foods isn't! Read on to learn what you can do to keep restaurant and take-out foods safe to eat.

  • If the dining room doesn't look clean, leave! It's likely the kitchen isn't clean either.

  • Order foods cooked thoroughly—no rare meats or runny eggs.

  • If you're not sure how a food is prepared, ask!

  • Ask for hot foods to be served piping hot; if they are not served hot, ask for them to be reheated.

  • At fast-food restaurants, special order your food so that it's made fresh. This way you won't eat something that has been sitting around too long.

High-Risk Foods

Stay away from uncooked or undercooked foods such as:

  • Clams and oysters

  • Sushi

  • Steak tartare

  • Soft-boiled or sunny-side-up eggs

  • Hollandaise sauce

  • Caesar salad dressing

  • Meringues

  • Dessert mousse and tiramisu


  • Label containers with the date.

  • Refrigerate leftovers within two hours; if you can't, don't take the food home.

  • Use the leftovers within three days or throw the food out!

What about take-out foods?

It's best to eat your take-out meal as soon as possible after picking it up from the restaurant. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of picking it up and then reheat.

Figure 2. 
[Click thumbnail to enlarge.]

Refrigerating Foods

  • Take out stuffing (if there is any).

  • Separate meats, vegetables, and sauces, if possible.

  • Divide food into small portions and place in shallow containers.

  • Cover food loosely with plastic wrap or aluminum foil; when cool, you may cover with a fitted lid.

Reheating Foods

  • Reheat solid foods to an internal temperature of 165°F—the food should be steaming and not have cold spots.

  • Reheat liquids to a boil.

  • Reheat foods in dishes, not in plastic containers.



This document is FCS8912 (la versión en español de este documento es Seguridad Alimentaria: Restaurantes y comidas para llevar (FCS8912-Span)), one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date May 2010. Reviewed April 2016. Visit the EDIS website at


Jennifer Hillan MSH, RD, LD/N, former ENAFS nutrition educator/trainer; and Amy Simonne, PhD, 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.