Leftovers…eating safely

I eat leftovers ALL THE TIME! I hate waste, so I’m always thinking of ways to re-purpose food. Then this morning I had a bit of a panic wondering if I was doing the right thing giving them to Dexter. I regularly freeze all kinds of food and defrost for a later date. But what is the safest way to do it and what should we freeze, or not freeze? For instance I got thinking about fish…I use frozen fish to make my easy-freezy fish pie then re-freeze and defrost it. Am I being a total muppet and risking making my child ill?

I will link all of the websites I’ve used to conduct my bit of research at the end.

DISCLAIMER: I’m a mum…not a health professional! I’m just sharing the research I’ve read and my own common sense. If you are not sure about whether a food is safe…I’d chuck it and not risk getting ill!!


I make rice loads. I also freeze rice. When my lovely sis got sick this morning (she thinks from rice) this was the first thing I wanted to clarify the guidelines on. From what I have read, it seems that rice is most likely to become full of bacteria when it is at room temperature. I think this is an important point for parents to know because we often serve our food at a lower temperature or leave it for a while to cool, or while Mr Tumble finishes to avoid a meltdown (if you are in my house).

Below is a quote from the NHS England website about rice and food poisoning.


How does reheated rice cause food poisoning?

Uncooked rice can contain spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning. When the rice is cooked, the spores can survive.

If the rice is left standing at room temperature, the spores can grow into bacteria. These bacteria will multiply and may produce toxins (poisons) that cause vomiting or diarrhoea.

The longer cooked rice is left at room temperature, the more likely it is that the bacteria or toxins could make the rice unsafe to eat.


This video is really helpful.


So when you are using rice for leftovers:

  • Cool it as quickly as possible before freezing
  • Make sure you heat it really thoroughly
  • Don’t re-heat more than once
  • Defrost overnight ideally
  • Eat within 24 hours
  • If you are not sure…don’t risk it!



I’m definitely a ‘sniff tester’. Real talk – I don’t always listen to best before dates. But I thought it might be good to talk about the difference between use by and sell by and best before…

USE BY is the biggy. This is for things that perish quickly and could make you ill. Pay attention to these ones. Also, sniffing doesn’t work for these. Salmonella, for instance doesn’t make food smell.

BEST BEFORE is just what it says. It is when the food will be at it’s best. I made the hubby a salad today with leaves past their best before. But they looked fine so I used them because I didn’t see the point of wasting them (sorry, not sorry hun).

I liked this explanation of freezing too from the food standards agency site.

pause button

What about my fish pies? Well, it seems that as long as it has been cooled quickly by portioning the pie out (tick) and it is thoroughly heated and served immediately (tick) Β then it should be okay.

If you or your kids do get sick, please check out the NHS website or dial 111 (UK) if you are worried.

Here are the sites I used to help me write this post:





If you have read this and found it useful PLEASE share it with others. Not from a publicity point of view but just because we don’t want little people getting poorly when they don’t need to.

My Petit Canard

6 thoughts on “Leftovers…eating safely

  1. Some awesome points here! Another one I often think of is the importance of defrosting in the fridge (usually overnight) compared to leaving the food out on the bench. Otherwise, the surface of the food warm up before the centre has defrosted, and the bugs start growing!


    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to add this on Kyla! Having spoken to lots of friends about this everyone wants all the advice they can get! You are a star. xx


  2. Really great post with lots of advice. Some things I do and knew, others I didnt like the rice advice! Definitely something to be aware of and make sure we follow going forwards! Thanks for sharing this on #MarvMondays, I hope lots of others got to read it too πŸ™‚ Emily


Comments are closed.