KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — You may want to think twice before digging into your Thanksgiving leftovers.
The Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services released a helpful guide to find out how long popular holiday dishes last in your fridge. Some items may have already gone bad.
Turkey, the top Thanksgiving staple, has already gone bad, according to the chart. Mashed potatoes and yes, your gravy have also likely gone bad after this weekend.
Eating these foods could potentially result in foodborne illness, with symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea. While the amount of time the food is stored does play a factor, health officials say how you store your food is much more important.
Lucus Pols, the Environmental Health Division chief with Kalamazoo County said the best way to mitigate the risk of contaminating food is to get it as cold as possible, as quickly as possible.
“The best thing we tell people is get it into the freezer,” Pols said. “If you’re not going to freeze it, at the very least leave it in there for a few hours and then move it into your fridge.”
Freezing those leftovers could prolong their life by several weeks, even months. Pols also said leaving your food out too long after eating could increase the likelihood of getting sick.
“I wouldn’t leave food out longer than half an hour, maybe an hour,” he said.
While these tips may not be timely for your Thanksgiving leftovers, Pols hopes more people will consider them as Christmas approaches.
If you’re still considering eating the leftovers in your fridge, Pols advises you to try and heat them up to lower the risk of getting sick. If you have a food thermometer, you will want to get it up to at least 165 degrees.
If you do start to feel sick, Pols said you should contact your regular healthcare provider to get checked out.