How Long You Can Safely Gorge on Thanksgiving Leftovers, According to the Government

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, which means it’s time for Turkey Feast Round Two — or maybe Round Three … or four.

Before your bite into all those leftovers, its important make sure to that extra food is safe. has put together a simple guide of “steps to follow when consuming leftover Thanksgiving food.” Mixing rules and food is rarely fun, but, as the FDA points out, “harmful bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature,” so it’s better to play it safe this holiday weekend, so you don’t spend it sick instead.

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To fight this fast growing bacteria, which develops when food is between 40 to 140 degrees, recommends refrigerating leftovers within two hours after serving. Food should go into the fridge in shallow pans so it cools fast; do not refrigerate leftover stuffing inside the turkey, instead store the two foods separately.

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Both the FDA and recommend eating your refrigerated leftovers within four days, making your deadline Tuesday, November 27.

If you don’t think you’re up to the challenge of consuming all your leftovers in four days, freeze what you might want to eat later.

These are the suggested steps for safely consuming Thanksgiving leftovers, but the FDA says if your extra food smells funky ahead of the four day mark: trash it.

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“A good rule to follow is, when in doubt, throw it out,” Marjorie Davidson, a consumer educator at FDA, advised.

Looking for ways to use your leftovers now? Check out these recipes for reusing your Thanksgiving spread.

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