ANNOUNCER: Food borne bacteria thrive on temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. So to keep them from showing up at your table, you need to keep your perishables out of the danger zone.
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, American Dietetic Association: The best way to be sure that your food is being kept safe within your refrigerator is to buy a food thermometer. Keep it in the middle shelf of the fridge and be sure that it reads 40 degrees.
ANNOUNCER: But how long can perishables like meat and dairy products be left out and still be safe to eat? Experts recommend you stick to the two-hour rule.
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, American Dietetic Association: Perishable food should not be left out un-refrigerated for more than two hours. If it's 90 degrees or above, that two-hour rule becomes a one-hour rule, where food should not really be exposed to the elements more than one hour.
ANNOUNCER: When it comes to storing leftovers, remember to divide and conquer.
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, American Dietetic Association: The reason why it's so important to put food in small, shallow containers, instead of putting your food in a large container, is because it will allow it to cool more quickly.
ANNOUNCER: And don't forget to pack the ice if you're taking your perishables on the road.
Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, American Dietetic Association: There are 76 million reported cases of food borne illness by the centers for disease control every year, and there are 5,000 deaths a year from food borne illness. So it's really important that you take precaution when you're handling food, cooking food, and storing food in the refrigerator.
ANNOUNCER: Thanks for joining us on today's Once Daily.