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The Temperature To Look For Before Buying Prepared Foods At The Grocery Store Deli

Prepared foods at a grocery store
Prepared foods at a grocery store - Monticelllo/Getty Images

Even the most disciplined shopper may find it difficult to pass up Whole Foods' prepared items. Prepared foods can be a lifesaver when you don't have time to cook at home but still want to eat something that feels like it was made in your own kitchen. But it's critical to your health to make certain that these dishes have been stored at their optimal temperature before you purchase them.

Hot foods should be kept at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Meanwhile, cold foods should be kept under 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature guidance will help prohibit the growth of harmful bacteria.

Whether you need some creamy dill potato salad to bring to a potluck, some boneless buffalo wings for the next time you are hosting game day or don't feel like making mashed potatoes to go with your meatloaf, grocery store chains with delis are a great option. But how can you make certain the temperature is within the proper range?

Read more: 14 Popular Chain Grocery Stores For Meat, Ranked Worst To Best

Do Your Part To Maintain Freshness

Prepared food case
Prepared food case - Fotofrog/Getty Images

There should be an outward-facing thermometer in the food case that clearly shows what the temperature inside it is. Additionally, if foods are piled high into giant mounds of mashed sweet potatoes or into mountains of rice pilaf in their metal pans, don't buy them. They should just be touching the rim so they can maintain a consistent and safe temperature and should look hot or cold.

How you store these ready-to-eat dishes when you get home also factors into their safety. Hot foods like rotisserie chicken or pizzas should be eaten within two hours of buying them, otherwise put them in the refrigerator and use them within three to four days. Cold-prepared foods like macaroni salad, coleslaw, or any salad with a mayo-based dressing shouldn't be left out of the refrigerator for longer than two hours, and if it's a hot day, less than that. These foods should be eaten within three to five days.

Read the original article on Tasting Table