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Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving leftovers’

dinnerTomorrow is Thanksgiving and many of us will be preparing traditional celebrations which usually include generous amounts of food.  I think that besides the time spent with family and friends, my favorite part of the Thanksgiving feast are the leftovers that can be enjoyed for the next day or two.

This is a good time to think about the potential leftovers you will have and how to handle them safely to prevent food borne illness.

The first step to ensuring safe leftovers is to make sure that you are handling the food safely from the time you purchase it until you have prepared it.  Keep the four basic food safety guidelines in mind:

  1. Clean. Begin by washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water before and after handling food. Be sure that counter-tops are clean by washing with hot soapy water after preparing food, and keep cutting boards and utensils bacteria free by washing with hot soapy water or running through the dishwasher. Rinse fruits and vegetables that are not being cooked under cool running water.
  2. Separate. Help prevent cross contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry and seafood away from ready to eat foods in your shopping cart and your refrigerator. Use one cutting board for these raw foods and another for salads and ready to eat food.
  3. Cook. Use a food thermometer to tell if food is cooked to a safe temperature – just going by color is not sufficient. Always bring sauces, soups, etc. to a rolling boil when re-heating. If using a microwave oven, cover, stir and rotate the food to ensure even cooking.
  4. Chill. Remember the “danger zone” where bacteria can grow rapidly, 40° – 140°F. Keep the refrigerator below 40°, use an appliance thermometer to check the temperature. Chill leftover foods within 2 hours and put food into shallow containers to allow for quick cooling. Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

When you have prepared your dinner and are ready to serve, keep the time and temperature in mind for keeping the food safe for everyone. If an item that should be refrigerated inadvertently gets left out over two hours, throw it out!  No one likes to waste food but it is better than getting ill or even worse, making someone else ill.

Another thing to consider is how long you can safely keep leftovers.  Our colleagues at Illinois State University Extension have put together a list of safe times for keeping many holiday leftovers safely.

You might also be interested in trying some new recipes using your leftovers. The Illinois site lists several including this one for Turkey Posole (stew) that sounds great!

So, enjoy your Thanksgiving meal with your family and use good food safety practices to keep everyone healthy and happy!turkey-966496__480

Writer: Marilyn Rabe, OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Franklin County, Heart of Ohio EERA, rabe.9@osu.edu

Reviewer: Michelle Treber, OSU Extension, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, Treber.1@osu.edu

Resources:

University of Illinois Extension. Turkey for the Holidays. Turkey Leftovers. http://extension.illinois.edu/turkey/leftovers.cfm

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service . Leftovers and food safety. (Rev. ed.). Washington, DC: Author. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/leftovers-and-food-safety/ct_index

Michigan State University Extension. There are Limits to Leftovers http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/there_are_limits_to_leftovers

USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. Check Your Steps: Food Safe Families   https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/teach-others/fsis-educational-campaigns/check-your-steps/check-your-steps

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