The Partnership for Food Safety Education was featured in the October/November edition of HGTV Magazine. It may feel wasteful to toss what seems (and smells) like good turkey and stuffing, but Thanksgiving leftovers really should not be kept for a week. Executive Director Shelley Feist explained, “You can’t see, smell, or taste E. coli or salmonella and if your food is harboring either bacteria, it could make you sick.”
Temperature and time cause bacteria to grow, which is why it is so important your refrigerator be cold enough and you not keep leftovers too long. Even when refrigerated properly (at 40 °F), leftovers should be eaten, frozen or discarded within 3 to 4 days. When heating and storing leftovers keep the following in mind:
• Refrigerate cooked leftovers promptly – within 2 hours. Use an appliance thermometer in your refrigerator to ensure your refrigerator is at 40 °F or below.
• Divide leftovers into smaller portions and store in shallow containers in the refrigerator.
• Reheat cooked leftovers to 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Sauces, soups and gravies should be reheated by bringing them to a boil.
• When microwaving leftovers, make sure there are no cold spots in food (where bacteria can survive). Cover food, stir and rotate for even cooking.