Some of us dispose of whatever food we cannot finish after dinner. Others store the remnants in the fridge to avoid wasting food.
This was the case in Malaysia, where a lady developed stomach cancer after consuming leftover vegetables daily. Mistaken in her assumption that these leftovers are not harmful to her health, she often cooked them again the next morning.
As bacteria and other harmful substances develop in leftover foods over time, these eventually accumulated in her body, promoting the growth of cancer cells.
Her daughter, Xie Jiayi shared that her mother’s habit doing so has been going on for the past 10 years. This caused her to suffer from extreme weight loss, losing 32kg after becoming diagnosed.
After undergoing 8 rounds of chemotherapy, as well of surgery to remove 2/3 of her stomach, it was not enough to hinder the development of new cancer cells. Eventually, the cancer cells returned. Worst came to worst when she lost the fight with cancer.
Food safety is important in preventing illness. This is how to store your food safely.
Rules for storing leftovers
1. Cool leftovers as quickly as possible
Ideally, leftovers should be kept in the fridge or freezer within two hours of cooking. The danger zone for foods, according to the definition from FDA, is anywhere between 4° and 60° C.
Bacteria thrives in these temperatures, so keep your food below or above the temperature range. After all, you never know if there is a colony of bacteria cosying up in between the layers of your lasagne
2. Consume refrigerated leftovers within two days
It’s all about the bacteria. Cold temperatures slow down, but do not completely stop bacteria from growing on your food.
3. Reheat food until it reaches 70C
If you don’t possess an oven thermometer, you’ll know it’s hot enough when you see your food steaming.
Rotate your container in the microwave to ensure even heating, and stir soupy dishes to distribute the heat throughout the dish
4. Reheat food only once after defrosting
The more times food is cooled and reheated, the higher the risk of food poisoning. So portion out your food accordingly, and don’t take out more than you can consume! Toss the extras if you can’t finish them.
5. Cover leftovers completely
This prevents airborne bacteria from contaminating the leftovers. What’s more, cold air inside the fridge will dry out the food. You can avoid this by spending that extra minute to cover your food with cling wrap.