How Long You Can Safely Eat Thanksgiving Leftovers

In case you’re not already tired of that turkey, this is how long it’s still safe to eat.

November 26, 2018
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At my house it was like that scene in the movie "Forrest Gump" regarding shrimp, you know the one, fried shrimp, boiled shrimp, shrimp scampi, shrimp this, shrimp that... except it was turkey! We had two turkeys and lot's of leftover, well, turkey! I had fried turkey for breakfast, turkey sandwhich, turkey tacos, we even had turkey nachos, that was a new one for me.  So now what? Well if you’re fridge is still full of food from your holiday feast like mine, you’ve probably wondered exactly how long it’s safe to eat.

To simplify things and keep us from getting sick, FoodSafety.gov has put together a handy guide to consuming leftover Thanksgiving food. It all starts with getting those leftovers in the fridge within two hours of serving, so let’s hope you did that back on Thursday. Hmm, I think I did.  It’s important not to leave food sitting out longer because as the FDA points out, “harmful bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature,” so better safe than sorry. Oh boy okay, note to self on that one!

As for how long it’s safe to eat those leftovers after they hit the fridge, both the FDA and foodsafety.gov advise eating your Thanksgiving turkey and all the trimmings within four days, which makes your deadline for leftovers tomorrow, Tuesday, November 27th. So, that means, today, Monday, the 26th I can consume the last of my turkey leftovers. Good to know.

But that’s just a guideline and if your food starts to smell funky before then, the FDA says trash it. FDA consumer educator Marjorie Davidson advises, “A good rule to follow is, when in doubt, throw it out.” Oh great. Now I have to smell my food. I think I'll get my hubby to do that one. ~grace