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Store food properly to avoid illness

Always worth repeating: It's important to store food properly. You can get sick when food is carelessly stowed away in the kitchen, whether the food is leftover or fresh from the store. Here are tips for safer food storage:

Try to buy fresh raw meat, poultry or seafood no more than one or two days before you eat them. Buy only the freshest food, to use promptly or freeze for safe long-term storage. Check the expiration date to ensure the product is still fresh before freezing.

Label and date foods as you store them so you can easily tell what you have stored and how long foods have been in the fridge or freezer.

Never let food thaw at room temperature. Put it in the refrigerator or in cold water instead. Allow about one day for every five pounds of frozen fish, meat or poultry you need to thaw.

An airtight seal, such as that provided by vacuum food sealing, helps prevent the growth of certain bacteria that can cause food to spoil or get moldy. A vacuum food sealer helps preserve freshness and nutritional value.

Freezer burn happens when air surrounds food and causes the release of moisture. Food with freezer burn may be safe to eat but has lost much of its nutritional value, flavor and texture. The best way to avoid moisture and freezer burn is with an airtight seal.

Store food in convenient portion sizes. This helps the waistline and is also a great way to ensure foods safely cool down for storage and reheat for eating in the shortest amount of time.

The refrigerator's temperature should be no higher than 40 F and the freezer should always be below 0 F.

As a rule of thumb when reheating leftovers or make-ahead meals, heat them to 175 F throughout for 15 seconds.

Promptly refrigerate leftovers. Perishable cooked foods should not stay at room temperature longer than two hours.

Source: Rival/Seal-a-Meal