How many of us are guilty of this scenario? It’s late, we’re too lazy to look for the matching lids to our Tupperware containers, so we just wrap our leftovers in some aluminum foil.
No biggie, right?
We’re actually not supposed to store leftovers in foil. Typically speaking, when we properly store leftover food in sealed containers, they can last up to four days,m, depending on what food it is. However, for most people, the easiest solution is to just put some aluminum foil over a plate and call it a day. But that has health risks that come with it.
You see, it all boils down to airflow and bacteria. Bacteria need air to survive and thrive. Some bacteria, such as the ones that can cause food poisonings, like staph or Bacillus cereus, produce toxins that don’t get destroyed by high cooking temperatures. So, when a meal is left out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours, these bacteria can start to multiply very quickly, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
Using aluminum foil to cover food creates a risk since it doesn’t actually seal off airflow to your food.
Lindsay Malone, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic, explains, “When air is present, that allows the bacteria to grow faster, so you really want to get the right containers and pack things appropriately. Otherwise, your food isn’t going to last.”
That is why Malone cautions others to always pack their leftovers in air-tight containers and stick them in the fridge within two hours in order to avoid bacteria growing on the food. There is no point in letting your hard work in the kitchen go to waste. She reiterates the importance of air-tight containers particularly for dairy and meat products since they’re most prone to bacteria growth.
Just to be safe, don’t eat food that’s been sitting outside the fridge longer than 2 hours.