Whether you are planning to eat out or pick up a special dinner to eat at home, make sure you celebrate Valentine’s Day safely so that food poisoning doesn’t sour your sweet day.

Tips for Dining Out

While all restaurants in the U.S. are required to follow food safety guidelines set by state and local health departments, you can also take some simple steps to help keep your food safer.

  • When being seated, make sure the table is clean and that the hostess and wait staff don’t touch the tips of your silverware with their bare hands.
  • Avoid ordering dishes containing raw or undercooked meats or seafood – these foods need to be cooked thoroughly to kill harmful bacteria.
  • When ordering a hot dish, make sure the food is hot when delivered to your table. If only lukewarm, the food may not have been cooked long enough or could have been standing at room temperature for some time.
  • If you want your leftovers for later, be sure to take them home right after dining and get them into the refrigerator within two hours.

Eating at Home

Whether you are picking up food to eat at home or having it delivered, here is what you need to do to avoid illness from improper food handling or preparation:

  • If you are planning to pick up a meal, make sure to run all of your other errands first, picking up the food last so that you can take it home right away. Once food is cooked, it needs to be kept above 140° F (60° C) to keep bacteria from growing.
  • If you aren’t planning to eat take-out food right away, place the food in a warm oven or store it in the refrigerator for reheating later.
  • If you do plan to re-heat prepared foods, be sure to warm them until they reach an internal temperature of at least 165° F (74° C) before enjoying.
  • Any cold dishes that you ordered need to be kept refrigerated until just before serving.
  • If you are having food delivered, make sure that hot dishes arrive hot, and either eat them right away or place them in the oven to keep warm.

Enjoying Leftovers Later

If your special restaurant or take-out meal is too big to finish, place the leftovers in the refrigerator as soon as you finish eating or at most within two hours. If you won't be eating them within one to two days, it’s best to wrap them in freezer-safe packaging and place them in the freezer. You can then thaw them in the refrigerator or in the oven.