July 15, 2024

Keep Thanksgiving Leftovers Safe With Tips From the USDA

Happy Thanksgiving! Keep Thanksgiving leftovers safe with tips from the USDA. Since the meal for this holiday is usually quite large, you will most likely have lots of leftovers, which must be stored properly to prevent food poisoning.

Keep Thanksgiving Leftovers Safe With Tips From the USDA

The temperature danger zone for perishable foods is 40°F to 140°F. In that range, bacteria in foods can double every 20 minutes.

First, remember the two hour rule. All perishable foods must be refrigerated within two hours of coming out of the oven or out of the fridge for serving. This time decreases to one hour if the ambient air temperature is above 90°F. To make sure that food cools down quickly and gets through the danger zone fast, divide food into smaller amounts and package in shallow containers.

When you have stored the food in the fridge, mark the date on a note you put on the door. All leftovers should either be frozen or discarded after four days. Frozen food stays safe indefinitely, although the quality may decrease. For best quality, et the food within two to six months. And when you reheat leftovers, be sure to reheat them to 165°F, and check that temperature with a reliable food thermometer.

If you plan to microwave leftovers, make sure that you cover and rotate the food during the cooking time. Stir casseroles and gravies thoroughly. Arrange the food in microwave safe containers and add some liquid to aid in heating. And because microwave ovens have cold spots, check the temperature of the food in several places with a food thermometer after a three minute rest time. And make sure that the container is resting on a solid surface, not a wire rack, to distribute heat evenly.

If you have any questions, you can call the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday. This hotline is open on Thanksgiving Day from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm Eastern Time.


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