Top 5 Food Safety Tips - The Leftover Edition

Now, there are tons of ideas for what to do with leftover, it feels like we could be eating them for weeks. There is a limit to how long we can enjoy leftovers. This of course does not only apply to Thanksgiving, but this meal is one where there tends to be a lot left over.

One of the main ways that we can try to avoid digestive distress is to avoid food poisoning. Food poisoning may be one of the largest causes of IBS, according to research from Cedars Sinai. Plus, if you suffer from IBS, you are more likely to get food poisoning (sort of a nasty chicken-and-egg problem). There my top 5 tips to do our best to avoid food poisoning. Of course I can’t make any guarantees, but these are best practice in food safety:

  1. Don’t rely on your nose: I am guilty of smelling everything before I eat it. If it smells ‘off’ it goes into the garbage. Spoiled food that emits a foul odor should not be consumed, but most bacterial or viral contamination cannot be detected by visual cues (like mold) or by foul odor. Unfortunately, we can’t rely on our noses to determine what is safe to eat when it comes to food poisoning.

  2. Store leftovers the right way: You can store leftovers in the refrigerator if you will consume them within 3-4 days. If you have a leftover casserole, or stock that you want to keep longer term store it directly into the freezer. You will be able to store foods in the freezer for about 3 months.

  3. Get it in the fridge: When storing leftovers in the refrigerator you want to make sure that they get cool, and get cool quickly. This means that you shouldn’t store a whole cooked turkey in the fridge - so work on your knife skills, you will want the meat sliced. Essentially the larger the item, the slower it will be to cool to a safe storage temperature.

  4. Don’t be lukewarm: When you reheat leftovers, you want to make sure that you reheat the food to a safe internal temperature. For a soup, bring it to a simmer on the stove. If it is meat, put it back in the over and check the internal temperature with a thermometer. You are looking for the magic number of 165 degrees.

  5. Avoid the danger zone: I am referring to the temperature danger zone (40-140 degrees) which is the wide range of temperatures where bacteria thrive. Make sure that you put away leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer as quickly as possible. You do not want to leave perishable food out for more than 2 hours at room temperature.