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Letting the Food Linger at the Table Too Long
Your glorious meal has ended, and now everyone is enjoying the time to relax and chat around the table. But before you get too comfortable, remember the food. The USDA recommends letting food sit at room temperature no more than two hours; after that, it should be refrigerated—and, says NRDC's senior scientist and food/agriculture expert Dana Gunders, the sooner you can put the food away, the better, because cooked food sitting at room temp is in what the USDA calls the "Danger Zone" (between 40 and 140 degrees), where bacteria can grow rapidly and the food can become unsafe to eat.