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Avoiding food-borne illness this holiday season

by Ben Nuelle

The holiday season has officially begun which means you will have leftovers. Mary Ann Gravely is a Food Safety Specialist with the USDA Meat and Poultry hotline. She says it is extremely important to safely store leftovers properly.

“One of the keys to avoiding food-borne illness is putting leftovers away quickly so bacteria aren’t given the chance to grow. We recommend you pack up your leftovers within two hours from serving the meal in shallow containers so they will cool down quickly.”

Gravely says eat your leftovers within four days.

“Because after that they can spoil. So if you have gone through all the trouble of packing up your nice leftovers from your Thanksgiving feast, you want to use them. You don’t want to turn around and end up throwing them away. Whatever you think you can at by Monday put in the refrigerator but if it’s too much pack it away in your freezer. It will taste best if you eat it in about four months.”

Gravely says the Meat and Poultry Hotline is available Monday through Friday 9:00am to 3:00pm central time all year long if you have food safety questions. Call them toll free 1-888-674-6854.