how many times can you reheat ground beef

In terms of food safety, however, so long as you reheat the food at the correct temperature and for the correct duration of time, it can in fact be safely reheated multiple times. However, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends that food is only reheated once, so follow this guidance wherever possible.

By following some simple steps when preparing and storing foods, it is possible to safely reheat foods more than once. Photo by Kim Deachul on Unsplash

Analysis for The Conversation by Professor of Microbiology, Enzo Palombo and Lecturer in Environmental Health, Sarah McLean

Preparing meals in bulk and reheating is a great way to save time in the kitchen and can also help to reduce food waste. You might have heard the myth that you can only reheat food once before it becomes unsafe to eat.

The origins of food myths are often obscure but some become embedded in our culture and scientists feel compelled to study them, like the “five second rule” or “double-dipping”.

The good news is that by following some simple steps when preparing and storing foods, it is possible to safely reheat foods more than once.

Why can food make us sick?

There are many ways bacteria and viruses can end up in foods. They may occur naturally in environments where products are harvested or contaminate foods during processing.

Viruses won’t grow in foods and will be destroyed by cooking (or proper reheating). On the other hand, bacteria can grow in food. Not all bacteria make us sick. Some are beneficial,including probiotics in yoghurt or starter cultures used to make fermented foods.

But some bacteria are not desirable in foods. These include those that reproduce and cause physical changes, making food unpalatable (or spoiled), and pathogens, which cause illness.

Some pathogens grow in our gut and cause symptoms of gastroenteritis, while others produce toxins (poisons) which cause us to become sick. Some bacteria produce special structures, called endospores, which survive for a long time – years, even – until they encounter favourable conditions which allow them to grow and produce toxins.

how many times can you reheat ground beef

While cooking and reheating will generally kill pathogenic bacteria in foods, they may not destroy toxins or endospores. When it comes to reheating foods, toxins pose the greatest risk of illness.

The risk increases in foods that have been poorly handled or cooled too slowly after initial cooking or reheating, since these conditions may allow toxin-producing bacteria to grow and proliferate.

Bacteria that cause food-borne illness typically grow at temperatures between 5C and 60C (the “temperature danger zone”), with fastest growth occurring about 37C.

Foods that are best able to support the growth of these bacteria are deemed “potentially hazardous” and include dishes containing meat, dairy, seafood, cooked rice or pasta, eggs or other protein-rich ingredients.

A common culprit of food poisoning linked to reheated foods is Staphylococcus aureus, which many people carry in their nose or throat. It produces a heat-stable toxin that causes vomiting and diarrhoea when ingested.

Food handlers can transfer these bacteria from their hands to foods after cooking or reheating. If the contaminated food is kept within the temperature danger zone for an extended period, Staphylococcus aureus will grow and produce toxins. Subsequent reheating will destroy the bacteria but not the toxins.

Sign up to Saved for Later

Catch up on the fun stuff with Guardian Australias culture and lifestyle rundown of pop culture, trends and tipsEnter your email address Enter your email address

Why can food make us sick?

There are many ways bacteria and viruses can end up in foods. They may occur naturally in environments where food is harvested or contaminate foods during processing or by food handlers.

Viruses won’t grow in foods and will be destroyed by cooking (or proper reheating). On the other hand, bacteria can grow in food. Not all bacteria make us sick. Some are even beneficial, such as probiotics in yoghurt or starter cultures used to make fermented foods.

However, some bacteria are not desirable in foods. These include bacteria which reproduce and cause physical changes making food unpalatable (or spoiled), and pathogens, which cause illness.

Some pathogens grow in our gut and cause symptoms of gastroenteritis, while others produce toxins (poisons) which cause us to become sick. Some bacteria even produce special structures, called endospores, which survive for a long time – even years – until they encounter favourable conditions which allow them to grow and produce toxins.

While cooking and reheating will generally kill pathogenic bacteria in foods, they may not destroy toxins or endospores. When it comes to reheating foods, toxins pose the greatest risk of illness.

The risk increases in foods which have been poorly handled or cooled too slowly after initial cooking or reheating, since these conditions may allow toxin-producing bacteria to grow and proliferate.

The food ‘danger zone’ is between five and 60 degrees. Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

Foods that are best able to support the growth of these bacteria are deemed “potentially hazardous” and include foods or dishes containing meat, dairy, seafood, cooked rice or pasta, eggs or other protein-rich ingredients.

A common culprit of food poisoning linked to reheated foods is Staphylococcus aureus which many people carry in their nose or throat. It produces a heat-stable toxin which causes vomiting and diarrhoea when ingested.

Food handlers can transfer these bacteria from their hands to foods after cooking or reheating. If the contaminated food is kept within the temperature danger zone for an extended period, Staphylococcus aureus will grow and produce toxins. Subsequent reheating will destroy the bacteria but not the toxins.

In terms of food safety, however, so long as you reheat the food at the correct temperature and for the correct duration of time, it can in fact be safely reheated multiple times. However, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommends that food is only reheated once, so follow this guidance wherever possible.

FAQ

Can you reheat ground beef multiple times?

If food has been hygienically prepared, cooled quickly after cooking (or reheating) and stored cold, reheating more than once should not increase the risk of illness. However, prolonged storage and repeated reheating will affect the taste, texture, and sometimes the nutritional quality of foods.

How many times can you reheat cooked beef?

The Food Standards Agency recommends reheating your food just one time. For instance, imagine reheating your leftover Lasagna to find out that it’s got a massive lump of ice-cold meat in the middle? It is not only likely to be less appealing, but you’ll also know that you are putting yourself at risk of food poisoning.

What is the maximum amount of time allowed for safely reheating food?

The State Sanitary Code now requires that the entire mass of all cooked and refrigerated potentially hazardous food which is to be reheated must be reheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit or above within two hours, and held above 140 degrees Fahrenheit until served.

Related Posts