Best practices for Thanksgiving, holiday meal leftovers
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) —
Thanksgiving may be behind us, but many of us still have leftovers at the front of our refrigerators.
So just how long is that food still okay to eat?
Richard Chesley, Manager with the Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling at DHEC says always get your perishable food in the fridge immediately.
“Leaving perishables out for 2 hours or more allows bacteria to multiply rapidly and can put you at the risk of contracting a foodborne illness,” Chesley says.
He says the best way to ensure leftovers are eaten is to place them in clear containers at the front of your refrigerator, and be sure to mark the containers with its contents and date.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for three to four days, or frozen for three to four months.
And while some foods can be kept frozen for longer, moisture and flavor may be lost after that amount of time.
The Department of Agriculture also says when reheating leftovers, be sure the food reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit when measured with a food thermometer.
Chesley also says more food is wasted during the holidays than the rest of the year.
“There’s about a 25 percent increase in the amount of food waste that’s generated during the holidays from Thanksgiving to Christmas,” says Chesley.
Or another idea for leftovers? Give them away.
“Look for a family in need perhaps in your neighborhood or at church or at work. Certainly give away any unwanted food that you have. Obviously do it in a timely safe manner, but it’s a wonderful time to donate. I can’t think of many things better than giving someone during the holiday season a nice meal.
According to DHEC’s “Don’t Waste Food SC,” a family of four spends $1,500 to $1,800 a year on food that is not consumed.