What Is the Minimum Temperature for Reheating Food?

When you reheat food, you’re probably mostly thinking about making sure it’s not overheated, underheated, rubbery, chewy, or some other way you might destroy your dish.

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Then, someone tells you about food safety or you have a bout with food poisoning. Now you’re here, wondering about safe minimum food temperatures.

Why Minimum Food Temperatures Matter

Why Minimum Food Temperatures Matter

Food poisoning! The problem with storing and reheating food is that sometimes something goes wrong. The lid is not on properly. The refrigerator might not be cool enough. Maybe you left the food on the counter for too long.

This is when bacteria set in. Now, your food is contaminated.

The idea behind reheating food to a minimum temperature is that the heat will cook out most bacteria that may have settled into your food.

If you eat food that has been contaminated, you could get an upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, and more.

No one wants that, so let’s avoid it. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to do just that.

Store Your Food Properly

Store Your Food Properly

First, make sure you store your food properly. Separate hot and cold foods and store them in airtight containers that lock closed.

Your refrigerator should be kept at a nice cold 37 degrees Fahrenheit.

Your freezer should be kept to a temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Try to keep your freezer closed unless you absolutely have to open it. You don’t want the food stored in your freezer to warm up from the door opening and closing.

Also, when you do add something to your freezer, make sure it is at room temperature. Don’t add hot foods to the freezer, which can raise the overall temperature of your freezer and of the foods within (which will welcome bacteria!).

Don’t Store Food for Too Long

Try not to keep food in the fridge for longer than five days. In the freezer, food can keep several months.

Why?

Because even under the best circumstances, food can breed bacteria. It will eventually settle in and begin to break down.

Also, many of the nutrients that made your food good for you are depleted over time.

Heat Food to a Safe Minimum Temperature

When you reheat your leftovers, the USDA recommends ensuring they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperatures below this threshold are considered in the “danger zone” and are more likely to breed that scary bacteria.

To be safe, you should use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of any food you’re reheating.

With meat, you want to stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. With mixed foods, be sure you’ve stirred the dish thoroughly and rotated it in the microwave, if you cook it there, before checking the temperature.

What has your experience been with reheating food to a minimum safe temperature? Let me know in the comments. I love to hear from my readers.

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