How to eat Thanksgiving leftovers safely

If you still have Thanksgiving leftovers in your fridge, the USDA has some advice to make sure that extra food doesn’t make you sick.

Generally speaking, those leftovers are only good in your fridge for four days. 

"You have Thursday, Thanksgiving. You have until Cyber Monday when everybody decides to shop online. That is the deadline," said USDA public affairs specialist Jesse Garcia. "People need to decide if they're going to eat their food, freeze their food or discard it."

When you reheat leftovers, make sure you’re doing it thoroughly to kill all the bacteria. 

"Just remember that if you're reheating in a microwave to even distribute all the items," said Garcia. "Make sure that all the items, we're talking the appetizers, the side dishes, ham and turkey, reach 165 internal temperature."

If you’re freezing your leftovers, they should be good for about six months, as long as everything is stored properly. 

"For cold items, make sure that you freeze them separately from the items that need to be reheated. And just make sure that they are properly sealed when they're in the refrigerator," said Garcia. 


When you take that food out of the freezer, make sure it passes the smell test. 

"As they begin to thaw, just make sure that they look good and that they smell good," said Garcia.

If you have questions about your leftovers, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MP-HOTLINE (1-888-674-6854). Operators are available Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. central time. You can also email, chat live with an expert at, or download the Foodkeeper App.