ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — You've likely done all your food shopping for Thanksgiving and many of you may already be prepping some of the side dishes you'll be serving. But once that food hits the table, there are some things you can do to make sure all those leftovers are not only yummy but safe to reheat and eat.
We checked with food safety expert Danielle Egger with Florida Food Safety Systems to find out how long we can leave that Thanksgiving meal on the table for people to graze.
"Anything that you don't eat within two hours should be boxed up. We recommend cutting it down into smaller portions so that it cools down faster. Bacteria like to grow when the temperature is about room temperature. So we want to cool those temperatures down as quickly as possible," Egger said.
Once you've put it in the fridge, she says you can enjoy it for a few more days, but that's it.
"So a good rule would be the Monday after Thanksgiving is a good time to throw out any of the leftovers or freeze which you don't think you're going to eat."
Once you do freeze your food, you have three to six months to use it.
"Keep a label on things. Things start to look alike when they're in the freezer so put a label on it, just so that you know, so you're not pulling out a mystery meat one day," Egger added.
And she says to keep that food thermometer handy. "Everything must be reheated to 165 degrees before you serve it. That's going to kill off any of that bacteria that may have grown while it was out at room temperature."
As far as dessert, pumpkin pies and cheesecakes are made with milk and eggs, so they can sit safely at room temperature for two hours max. Then it can be stored in the fridge for three to four days.
The pies at the grocery store that are not in the refrigerator have extra preservatives that keep them from spoiling at room temperature.