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Thanksgiving Dinner: A Gift that Keeps Giving

We hope you enjoyed our countdown to the Thanksgiving holiday, and turkey roasting tips! Now that the holiday is behind us, it’s time to think about what to do with the copious amounts of leftovers taking up room in our refrigerators.

We at the Food Safety and Inspection Service have provided a quick Q&A for tips to help make sure your Thanksgiving dinner stays fresh for the second, third, and fourth times around. With the proper care, your hard work in the kitchen can be a gift that keeps giving.

Love the post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich?
Turkey connoisseurs agree: the leftovers are the best part! Make sure to use leftover turkey, stuffing and gravy within 3 to 4 days.

Looking forward to using your leftovers to recreate the full Thanksgiving spread?
Reheat leftovers until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, or until the food is hot and steaming. Make sure to bring all reheated gravies and sauces to a rolling boil before serving.

Have more than you can possibly eat in 3-4 days?
Freeze what you want to save as soon as possible. When frozen to 0°F, leftovers will keep for two to six months for the best quality.

For additional information on safe handling of leftovers, you can listen to or read the script of last year’s FSIS “Safe Handling of Leftovers” podcast.

If you have other questions about handling leftovers—or any aspect of food safety—you can check in with USDA’s Ask Karen virtual representative.  The question-and-answer service is available 24/7.

You can also call USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854. It’s open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time. Expert staff can take questions on any food safety topic.

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