Tips for Storing Your Thanksgiving Turkey Leftovers Safely With Ericka Shipley, BSN, RN, CIC, CNOR,
Manager of Infection Prevention

Hi, I’m Erica Shipley, Manager of Infection Prevention at United Hospital Center. I am glad you could join me to discuss a few safety tips concerning your holiday meal leftovers.

I hope you took your time after Thanksgiving and enjoyed your family and friends around the dinner table. However, you needed to refrigerate your leftovers within two hours after you served your meal. After that timeframe, bacteria start to multiply.

When reheating leftovers, be sure these reach 165 degrees, as measured with a food thermometer. Reheat sauces, soups, and gravies by bringing them to a rolling boil. Make sure to cover leftovers to reheat. This retains moisture, ensures that food will heat through, and saves a mess in the microwave.

When reheating in the microwave, cover and rotate the food for even heating. Arrange food items evenly in a covered microwave-safe glass or ceramic dish and add some liquid if needed. Be sure the covering is microwave safe and vent the lid or wrap to let steam escape. The moist heat created will help destroy harmful bacteria and ensure uniform cooking. Also, because microwaves have cold spots, check the temperature of the food in several places with a food thermometer.

Remember, you cannot smell or taste bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. If the leftover items have been refrigerated, Monday, November 28, is the last day to enjoy any remaining Thanksgiving food safely. If you decide to freeze your leftovers, you can enjoy your meal for as long as two to six months.

From all of us at United Hospital Center, we want to keep you safe, especially during the holiday season. Happy Holidays!

Please note, the information provided throughout this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images, and video, on or available through this website is for general information purposes only. If you are experiencing related symptoms, please visit your doctor or call 9-1-1 in an emergency.