Got Thanksgiving Leftovers? Keep Them Safe.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food? Cast your vote in the poll below! One of our favorite things about the big meal is being able to enjoy it again by re-feasting on the leftovers. It’s important to store and reheat those leftovers carefully to protect your friends and family from foodborne illness.

Follow the 2-2-4 rule. It’s not a football play, but a simple guideline to keep food safe.

2: Two hours is the maximum amount of time food should be left out after cooking. Within two hours of serving, put it in the refrigerator or freezer.

2: Two inches of food in a shallow dish is the best way to make keep foods out of the danger zone. Food safety experts at USDA note that bacteria can grow when the food temperature is between 40° F and 140° F. Shallow dishes help the food to cool down quickly and evenly – the only way to prevent bacteria growth

4: Four days is how long you can safely keep leftovers. Make sure to reheat them to 165 before you indulge.

Some prep work before the big day can make sure your food storage game is at its best. Consider cleaning and organizing the refrigerator and freezer before food shopping to create room for perishable foods.

Check out this infographic with the best locations to keep different types of foods in the refrigerator. Raw meat, poultry and seafood should be in a sealed container or wrapped securely to prevent raw juices from contaminating other foods. Try to allow enough room so cold air can circulate.

When those Thanksgiving leftovers are nearing the four-day mark, consider some ideas from our expert to make good use of them.

Leftovers are a great way to enjoy the Thanksgiving meal for days to come and to reduce food waste. Follow food safety guidelines to keep you and your family safe.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?

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Originally published Nov. 19, 2018