For many of us, Thanksgiving is the best meal of the year. What’s
even better? When that meal lasts the rest of the week because of the enormous
amounts of leftovers. Unfortunately, if leftovers aren’t stored properly, they
can make families sick.
Avoid foodborne illnesses by cooling leftovers as quickly as
possible before storing them. Split up all of the leftover turkey (or other
food) into a few different clean and shallow containers with the lid off. If
it’s a chili or soup, don’t be afraid to throw a few ice cubes in each
container to help the process!
Be sure to let food cool briefly before putting it in the
refrigerator so heat doesn’t get trapped in each container. This will help stop
bacteria from growing as it cools faster. When reheating leftovers, keep a food
thermometer handy. Food should be 165°F before consumption.
Cooling and reheating properly can mean the difference
between a healthy family and a sick one. Bacteria are more likely to grow on
food in the “danger zone,” which is anywhere between 41 and 135°F. Room
temperature falls right within that range, so food must be discarded after
sitting out for more than two hours to reduce the risk of food poisoning.
Most food can only be stored in the refrigerator for three
to five days. Turkey is only safe to eat for up to three to four days after
being stored.
Take these steps to prevent bacteria from growing on a
Thanksgiving meal:
  •   Discard food that has been left in the danger
    zone after 2 hours.
  • Cool leftover food quickly.
  • Reheat food to 165°F; check in multiple places especially if using a microwave
Click here for more information on refrigerator storage.