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May 30, 2002

USA: Restaurant goers want to take-out leftovers, says survey

US restaurant goers want more than just a great meal from restaurants; 75% of diners would find it helpful if restaurants provided proper reheating and storage instructions for leftovers or take-out food, according to a new survey. Of the 69% of Americans who eat at restaurants at least once a week, 91% take leftovers home at least occasionally and 32% take them home on a regular basis. However, in the rush for convenient meal options, many are unsure when it comes to proper leftover storage and reheating temperatures, or even when determining if food is still edible.

US restaurant goers want more than just a great meal from restaurants; 75% of diners would find it helpful if restaurants provided proper reheating and storage instructions for leftovers or take-out food, according to a new survey.

Of the 69% of Americans who eat at restaurants at least once a week, 91% take leftovers home at least occasionally and 32% take them home on a regular basis. However, in the rush for convenient meal options, many are unsure when it comes to proper leftover storage and reheating temperatures, or even when determining if food is still edible.

“We have become a culture of ‘diners-out’ and ‘takers-out,'” explained registered dietician Carolyn O’Neil. “But without a basic understanding of proper food handling and storage for these foods, consumers may be ordering up a case of food poisoning for dessert. Each carry-out meal or doggy bag poses a potential food safety hazard if it is not promptly eaten and/or handled correctly.”

Few consumers (19%) use a refrigerator thermometer to tell proper refrigeration temperature of foods and even fewer (6%) label and date restaurant leftovers to help them know when to throw foods out. A total of 48% of respondents admit to relying on their senses.

O’Neil added: “With more of us bringing home leftovers and take-out foods on a regular basis, we cannot afford to carelessly leave them out on the counter, or under our desks, for hours at a time. Families need to remember to refrigerate them promptly and avoid early food spoilage by using a refrigerator thermometer.”

The national survey was conducted by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) in conjunction with the ConAgra Foods Foundation.

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