Food Safety for Holiday Leftovers

December 27, 2007 in Food Safety, Holiday Eating

Food Safety for Holiday Leftovers

The presents are unwrapped, the dishes are done and everyone has had their fill of holiday fare. Perhaps you've even packed some leftovers for your guests to take home. Now, what should be done with the leftovers?

Soft cheeses, fruit, veggies and dip platters, turkey, tourtière, baked goods, eggnog and cider are typical holiday foods that remain long after the party is over. These lingering treats can also be a source of food-borne illnesses so it's a good idea to take extra care when storing and re-serving holiday leftovers.

Here are some tips for storing leftovers to help reduce the risk of food-borne illness:

  • Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of cooking and use shallow containers to speed up chilling. 

  • Separate raw foods from cooked, ready-to-eat foods, and liquid foods from solid foods to avoid cross-contamination.

  • Remove bones from large pieces of meat or poultry and divide them into smaller portions before refrigerating or freezing.

  • Freeze any leftovers that aren't eaten within four days of refrigeration.
  • Use gravy within two days of refrigeration.

When re-serving leftovers, make sure you kill harmful bacteria by cooking meat to the proper internal temperatures:

  • 85°C (185°F) for whole turkey

  • 74°C (165°F) for stuffing, egg dishes, and sausages containing poultry

  • 71°C (160°F) for pork chops, ribs and roasts, and sausages containing beef

  • at least 63°C (145°F) for steaks and roasts

Bacteria can grow rapidly when food is allowed to sit in the danger zone between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F). Eat hot foods while they're hot and cold foods while they're still cold.

Discard perishable food that's been allowed to sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Remember: You can't tell if food is contaminated with bacteria by the way it looks, smells or tastes so when in doubt, throw it out!


(Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency)




All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.