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Safe Handling of Meals To Go

Grab & Gobble Market pre-packaged foods

Photo of sandwiches being kept in a display cooler

After you purchase a takeout meal from a dining center, it’s important to follow a few, simple steps for proper food storage. Dining Services has stringent safety protocols that ensure we’re serving fresh, safe meals but when our customers leave a dining center with their order, it becomes their responsibility to prevent foodborne illness.

In general:

  • Keep hot foods hot, above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Keep cold foods cold, below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.


The Two-Hour Rule:

Don't leave any hot or cold food at room temperature for longer than two hours. If you take food from a dining center back to your room and leave it on your desk for longer than two hours, don't eat it. Throw it out!


Not Eating Within Two Hours?

Refrigerate the foods thoroughly (open up the container so cold air can get in) and don't store it for longer than two days. When you reheat the food, make sure that it is heated thoroughly until it is hot and steaming (above 165 degrees Fahrenheit). Stir the food, if possible, and rotate it in the microwave. If you don't eat all of the reheated meal, throw out the leftovers and don't save them in the refrigerator.


For questions, contact Ashley Foster, Assistant Director of Culinary Nutrition and Risk Management at Dining Services, at or 540-231-1896.