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Food Safety Tips for Storing Leftover Thanksgiving Day Turkey

Posted on Nov 19, 2010 by Maggie LaBarbera

Part III:  Serving and Storing your turkey safely - no germs please

Carving your Turkey:

Let the turkey sit for about 15-20 minutes before carving it.  This will allow the juices to set inside and your turkey will be easier to carve.

Make sure your knife is sharp before cutting.

Remove stuffing before carving.

Enjoy your turkey with family and friends!

Storing Leftovers:

Do not leave the extra turkey, stuffing or other leftovers out for more than two hours.

It is temperature and the amount of time that cause the bacteria to grow on food.  This is why you don't want foods left out longer than two hours.  Bacteria can't grow in a cold refrigerator (set at 40℉)

Leftovers should be eaten, frozen or thrown away within 3-4 days.

Cold Storage Guidelines for Some Holiday Foods

Product Refrigerator (40 °F) Freezer (0 °F)
Fresh Eggs, in shell 3 to 5 week Do not freeze
Soups & Stews-vegetable or meat added 3 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Fresh turkey, whole 1 to 2 days 1 year
Fresh turkey, pieces 1 to 2 days 9 months
Giblets 1 to 2 days 3 to 4 months
Cooked meat & meat casseroles 3 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Vegetable Casseroles 3 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Gravy & meat broth 3 to 4 days 2 to 3 months
Cooked poultry casseroles 3 to 4 days 4 to 6 months
Stuffing, cooked 3 to 4 days 1 month
Food Safety Information Source:

Tips on heating up leftovers from Thanksgiving:

  • Label dishes - kids can help!  Use your free printable "Thanksgiving Leftover Labels"
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Reheat cooked leftovers to 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Sauces, soups and gravies should be reheated by bringing them to a boil.
  • When microwaving leftovers, make sure there are no cold spots in food (where bacteria can survive). Cover food, stir and rotate for even cooking.
Cook your Thanksgiving Turkey germ-free!

Holiday food safety reminders – Avoiding cross contamination in the kitchen.

Turkey food safety- Guidelines for buying, storing and thawing your turkey for Thanksgiving

Holiday Shopping List by Food Groups

Guest and Meal Planning Food Groups Sheet

Print Thanksgiving Food Leftover Meal Labels





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