We hope you had a joyful (and food-safe) holiday meal. We suspect that like most of us you’ll be enjoying the goodies for days to come.
One highlight of our run-up to the holiday was our live Facebook chat on food safety on Nov. 12. USDA food safety expert Diane Van took questions on a variety of topics, but there were quite a few about handling leftovers.
A sampling of Diane’s answers that will help you stay food-safe for some folks’ favorite meals of the holiday season:
- Put your food away within two hours of serving it. Don’t leave it out on a buffet longer than that to pick at!
- Store the leftovers in small, shallow containers so they cool quickly.
- Store the turkey and stuffing separately.
- Reheat leftovers until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F or until the food is hot and steaming.
- Eat leftovers within three to four days – use gravy within one to two days. If you have more than you can eat within that period, freeze as soon as possible.
- When frozen to 0 degrees F, leftovers will keep for two to six months for the best quality. That’s right: Your Thanksgiving leftovers can keep at least … the Super Bowl.
If you have other questions about handling leftovers—or any aspect of food safety—you can check in with USDA’s Ask Karen virtual representative at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Ask_Karen. The question-and-answer service is available 24/7.
You can also call USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854. It’s open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Expert staff can take questions on any food safety topic.