Many restaurants offer customers 'doggy bags' for leftover food, but there are potential health risks if it is not stored and handled properly after leaving the restaurant.
The Food Act 2003 (NSW) does not prevent restaurants from providing doggy bags however, restaurants may elect not to provide containers and customers can take their own container (doggy bag) to take food home.
It's the responsibility of the consumer to store and handle food taken away from the restaurant safely to minimise the risk of food poisoning.
Doggy bag risks
Temperature control is a key factor in limiting the growth of bacteria in food. Bacteria that commonly cause food poisoning grow very well between 5oC and 60oC.
To reduce the risk of food poisoning, it's important the doggy bag is refrigerated as soon as possible after leaving the restaurant.
Minimise food poisoning risks
Food outlets should:
- if they choose to provide containers, transfer food into new, unused food-grade containers.
- if you use you own container, use only clean, reuasable, food-grade containers
- refrigerate food in doggy bags as soon as possible
- throw away leftovers if they've been out of the fridge for 2 hours or more
- reheat foods to at least 75oC, until they're steaming hot
- be aware that some containers are not intended for repeated use to reheat foods
- follow the key food safety tips.