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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

News Center

Keeping Food Safe In Your Dorm Room

LAS CRUCES -- Food-borne illnesses can occur anywhere, but they may be more likely in a college dormitory room where proper food handling and storage can be difficult.

Martha Archuleta, food and nutrition specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service, offers the following tips for keeping food safe in the dorm room:

* Always take perishable food home quickly after you go grocery shopping. Leaving your groceries in the car while you stop to visit a friend may cause spoiling to start. "Perishable foods should not be left out of the refrigerator for more than two hours," Archuleta said. "If the food has been left out longer than that amount of time, don't even bother keeping it."

* If you use a microwave oven, allow for extra cooking time to cook food more thoroughly. In the dorm, other equipment can drain current from the electrical circuit, causing a longer cooking time.

*Refrigerate all carry-outs including pizza, fried chicken and Chinese food as soon after serving as possible.

* Never store food on the window ledge, even if the weather is cold outside. Buildings radiate heat, making the sill warmer than the outside temperature.

* Always check "care packages" (food from home) to see if the cans or packages need to be refrigerated after opening.

These precautions should lower the risk of food-borne illnesses. For questionable food, the old adage "When in doubt, throw it out," still holds true.