Christmas 2021: How long do leftovers last? Your guide to food safety after the holidays

LOS ANGELES – The pleasure of a holiday meal doesn’t have to end when everyone gets up from the table; It’s a longstanding tradition to find your leftovers in the days following a big vacation or even to give them new life like a sandwich or casserole.

However, leftovers don’t last forever, and it’s important to practice good food safety habits to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses. As a general guideline, the US Department of Health & Human Services recommends eat or freeze turkey and other leftovers within three to four days. For Thanksgiving, that means you should eat or freeze it before Monday.

If you’re not sure what to do with leftover turkey, visit for a list of easy leftover turkey recipes.

Storing leftovers

After the big holiday meal, store your leftovers within two hours to prevent spoilage. Any perishable food at room temperature more than two hours should be considered unsafe and discarded.

Contrary to popular opinion, you should not allow leftovers to cool to room temperature before placing them in the refrigerator. according to DHHS: “Left foods should be placed in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as possible, even if they still have steam or heat emanating from them.”

DHHS recommends that it’s best to divide leftovers into smaller portions and store them in shallow containers with lids, DHHS recommends, so carve your turkey instead of storing an entire bird.

Heat up leftovers

When it’s time to eat your leftovers, make sure you reheat them thoroughly.

“Always check reheated leftovers in several places with a meat thermometer to make sure they reach 165 degrees F. When reheating food in the microwave, cover and turn or turn the food once or twice during the day. when cooking” USDA advises.

The agency adds, if you’re reheating in an oven, it should be set to 325 degrees Celsius or higher. Slow cookers and cooked dishes should not be used to reheat previously cooked dishes, as they may keep food at a low temperature. unsafe temperature for too long, although they can be used to keep warm food warm during service.

Freeze leftovers

If you choose to freeze leftovers, your mileage will vary depending on the dish. The USDA’s FoodKeeper App It is widely recommended to consumers that leftovers containing meat, fish, poultry or eggs can be kept in the freezer for two to three months. However, meatless leftovers only last for one to two months in the freezer.

This story was originally published in November 2018.

Copyright © 2021 KTRK-TV. Copyright Registered. Christmas 2021: How long do leftovers last? Your guide to food safety after the holidays

Dais Johnston

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