Thanksgiving Leftovers Food Safety Tips

For those of us wondering how long we can get away with picking at our Thanksgiving leftovers, the United States government is here to help.

This Thanksgiving season, the government is offering recommendations on how to safely store and consume your holiday leftovers. The food storage tips, which include such insights as a recommendation to refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours, were issued by, an online portal to food safety information collected by Federal agencies like the The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The information also includes a directive not to store stuffing inside a turkey, to avoid eating leftovers more than three or four days old, and to keep leftovers in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs “if the food is traveling home with a guest who lives more than two hours away.”

The site also recommends only storing food in shallow containers to decrease cooling time in the refrigerator and limit the amount of time your food spends at warmer unsafe temperatures.

The guidelines, which come alongside instructions for safely preparing a turkey, may be especially helpful in the wake of a series of holiday season food safety issues. Earlier this week, the CDC warned U.S. consumers to not eat romaine lettuce, which could be contaminated with E. coli. 32 people in 11 states have been infected in the outbreak, including 13 who have been hospitalized, according to the CDC.

The FSIS has also recalled turkey products linked to a salmonella outbreak, as well as certain raw beef and Duncan Hines cake mix products which could be contaminated with the bacteria.

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