House Call: Safety tips for holiday meal leftovers

Updated: Nov. 25, 2022 at 5:28 PM EST
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - Welcome back to UHC’s House Call on WDTV. Unsafe handling and under-cooking your holiday meal can cause foodborne illnesses. Here to discuss a few safety tips in preparing your holiday meal is Ericka Shipley, Manager of Infection Prevention at United Hospital Center.

1). Now that we have finished the holiday meal, what should we do about leftovers?

I hope that you took your time yesterday and enjoyed your family and friends around the dinner table. However, it was important that you remembered to refrigerate your leftovers within two hours after you served your meal, as after that time frame bacteria start to multiply.

2). What is the safest way to reheat leftovers?

When reheating leftovers, be sure these reach 165° F as measured with a food thermometer. Reheat sauces, soups and gravies by bringing these to a rolling boil. Cover leftovers to reheat. This retains moisture and ensures that food will heat all the way through. When reheating in the microwave, cover and rotate the food for even heating. Arrange food items evenly in a covered microwave safe glass or ceramic dish and add some liquid if needed. Be sure the covering is microwave safe and vent the lid or wrap to let the steam escape. The moist heat that is created will help destroy harmful bacteria and will ensure uniform cooking. Also, because microwaves have cold spots, check the temperature of the food in several places with a food thermometer.

3). How long do leftovers last?

Remember, you cannot smell or taste bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses.

As long as the leftover items have been refrigerated, Monday, November 28, is the last day to safely enjoy any remaining Thanksgiving food.

If you decide to freeze your leftovers, you can enjoy your meal for as long as two to six months.

From all of us at United Hospital Center, we want to keep you safe, especially during the holiday season. Happy Holidays!