Guidelines for leftovers

Guidelines for leftovers

  • 3 March 2021
One of the biggest causes of food poisoning is eating leftover foods that have been stored for too long.

Although throwing out food may seem like such a waste, sometimes it’s not worth the risk of eating something that has been sitting in the fridge for days ( or even weeks!).

Although sometimes it’s obvious that food has gone off, it’s not always possible - food can spoil even before you can tell by looking at it or smelling it

So, how long can you keep leftover food in the fridge before it becomes potentially unsafe to eat?

Foods spoil at different rates because some foods are more likely to contain pathogens like bacteria or toxins that could make you sick.

Some experts recommend eating leftovers within a maximum of 2-3 days of cooking, but maybe up to a week maximum for certain cooked foods, like cooked vegetables. Cooked rice, meat, eggs and seafood are at higher risk so you should be more cautious with these leftovers.

Guidelines for safe storage of leftovers


  • Cool leftovers as quickly as possible, and then transfer them to the fridge. if it’s too hot when put in the fridge, the internal temperature of the fridge will rise because of the hot food.

  • If you know you won't eat your leftovers within a few days, consider freezing if possible.

  • Label leftovers for the with the date they went into fridge or freezer.

  • Store raw food at the bottom of the fridge and cooked foods closer to the top to help avoid the risk of cross contamination.

  • Never reheat leftover food more than once.

  • If it looks or smells bad, rather toss it and don’t risk it.