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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Is it still safe to eat leftover Thanksgiving turkey?

But once you’ve all had your fill, you might have been stuck with plenty of leftovers. If you have turkey sitting in your fridge and are wondering if it is safe to eat, the CDC has issued urgent advice.

Eating unsafe meat and poultry, such as turkey, could run the risk of getting food poisoning. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea.

Leftover turkey can be used for recipes such as stews, currys, ramen and plenty of other options. But make sure you haven’t waited too long to use up your last bits of meat.

If you have any Thanksgiving leftovers remaining, here’s what the CDC advice says:

Can you eat leftover turkey?

The CDC issues the following advice for safely storing and reheating leftovers:

  • Refrigerate leftovers at 40°F or colder within 2 hours of cooking to prevent food poisoning. Refrigerate leftovers that have been exposed to temperatures higher than 90°F, like in a hot car, within 1 hour.
  • If you are refrigerating a big cut of meat, such as a turkey or roast, cut it into smaller pieces so they cool quickly. You do not need to wait until food is cool to store it in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Eat cooked turkey and dishes made with it, such as soup or a casserole, within 3 to 4 days. Freeze leftovers to store them for longer.
  • Reheat all leftovers to at least 165°F before serving or eating.

Why do you need to store leftovers in the fridge?

The CDC warns that the bacteria Clostridium perfringens grows in cooked foods left at room temperature. It is the second most common bacterial cause of food poisoning.

The major symptoms are vomiting and abdominal cramps within 6 to 24 hours after eating.

  • Clostridium perfringens outbreaks occur most often in November and December
  • Many of these outbreaks have been linked to foods commonly served during the holidays, such as turkey and roast beef

Bacteria can grow rapidly in the danger zone between 40°F and 140°F. After food is prepared, keep hot food hot and cold food cold.

Refrigerate or freeze any perishable food within 2 hours (1 hour if food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F, such as in a hot car). The temperature in your refrigerator should be set at or below 40°F and the freezer at or below 0°F.

How to safely thaw frozen turkey?

Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes), or in the microwave. Avoid thawing foods on the counter.

A turkey must thawexternal icon at a safe temperature to prevent harmful germs from growing rapidly.

What are the symptoms of food poisoning?

CDC advises that food poisoning symptoms can be anywhere from mild to very serious. Your symptoms may be different depending on the germ you swallowed.

The most common symptoms of food poisoning are:

  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever

After you swallow an unsafe (contaminated) food or drink, it may take hours or days to develop symptoms. If you have symptoms of food poisoning, such as diarrhea or vomiting, drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration (not having enough water in your body).

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