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Take Out and Delivery Food Safety


Festival Foods works closely with local and Wisconsin Health Departments to ensure that the foods you purchase at Festival are safe. However, for your safety, you must continue to safeguard perishable items even after purchase and preparation. That’s why the USDA has provided some helpful tips about handling and storage of take-out and delivery food items.

Hot Take-Out  Precautions:

  • Take-out foods are perishable and can cause illness when mishandled. To keep hot food safe, hold above 135° F.
  • Hot take-out food should be eaten within two hours of preparation.
  • If you are not eating hot take-out within two hours, keeping the food warm is not good enough.
    • Harmful bacteria can multiply between 41° F and 135° F.
    • To avoid this you should set the hot food in an oven at 135° F or above.
    • Check the internal temperature of food with a meat thermometer.
    • Covering with foil will help keep your food moist.
    • You can also keep hot food hot with chafing dishes or slow cookers that have been pre-heated.
  • To reheat, warm food thoroughly to a minimum temperature of 165° F or until hot and steaming.
    • In the microwave oven, cover food and rotate so it heats evenly to a minimum of 165° F.
    • Allow a two minute stand time after heating as microwaves heat unevenly.  (Consult your microwave owner’s manual for recommended times and power levels).

Cold Take-Out Precautions:

  • When purchasing cold take-out remember to keep cold food cold.
    • Refrigerate immediately.
    • Cold food should be held at 41° F or colder.
  • The two hour rule.
    • Perishable food should not be held at room temperature longer than two hours.
  • Deli Platters
    • Keep food cold on the buffet table by nesting dishes in bowls of ice.
    • Use small platters of food, and replace them with fresh platters, rather than adding fresh food to a dish that already had food on it.
  • When take-out food is purchased cold to eat at a later time, like a picnic or a sporting event, a cooler with ice is a practical alternative to a refrigerator.
    • The cooler should be well insulated and packed with ice or freezer packs.

This information has been is available from the agencies and websites below.

For More Information:
Please call the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555, 10 AM till 4 PM (EST), Monday through Friday.

With slight updates this information was developed by:
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service

in cooperation with:
Department of Health and Human Services
Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

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