Food Safety: Restaurant and Take-out Foods1

Jennifer Hillan and Amy Simonne 2

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. 
Figure 2. 
Credit: iStockphoto

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.


1. 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
2. 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.

Publication #FCS8912

Date: 2016-04-24
Simonne, Amarat

Related Topics

Fact Sheet


  • Amarat Simonne