Ellen Says:----Just as it is vital to refrigerate fresh meat and poultry as soon as possible after purchase, it is just as important to refrigerate leftover cooked dishes, especially if they contain meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, rice or cooked vegetables as soon as possible after preparation.
Whilst food is left out to cool before refrigeration, bacteria can multiply and contaminate the food, especially if left out for too long and in warm weather. It is therefore important to reduce the temperature of the food quickly.
Nowadays many refrigerators can cope with warm or hot food being placed inside shortly after preparation.However, it is always best to reduce the temperature of the leftover cooked food as quickly as possible by dividing it into portions and storing it in shallow, airtight containers. When placed in the refrigerator these smaller portions will cool down much faster.
Cooked meat, poultry or shellfish can be wrapped tightly in cling film or aluminum foil to prevent drying out or moisture loss. When reheating leftover food, ensure that it reaches a temperature of at least 140°F (60°C) so that any bacteria can be destroyed.