Food Experts Agree: Now Is The Time To Throw Out Thanksgiving Leftovers
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and all the feasting is finished. Naturally most families end up cooking a surplus for Turkey Day and end up with a ton of Thanksgiving leftovers. But how long can you go before you have to discard them? According to food scientists, today is the day to trash the turkey.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, most leftovers can stay in the fridge between three to four days before spoiling. It can last significantly longer when frozen, between three to four months to be exact.
Given that Thanksgiving was five days ago, you’d be wise to throw out whatever’s left from your Thanksgiving spread by now. I know it hurts to let go, believe me. I had a hard time saying farewell to my leftover green bean casserole this morning. You just always think you’ll have more time with the ones you love, y’know?
But as with most things in life, there are exceptions to these guidelines. Some experts admit to going by their best judgment when determining the quality of leftovers. Such is the case with food scientist Bryan Quoc Le in an interview with Scientific American.
“I like to go by the USDA’s guidelines, but I am not a stickler to it”, says Le. “Personally, I sometimes push [refrigerated leftovers] to four or five days, depending on the type of food.”
That same report by Scientific American also suggests that things like smell can help you determine whether your Thanksgiving leftovers have gone bad. A good rule of thumb is if it smells iffy, go ahead and throw it out.
On the flip side of that coin, don’t assume you’re safe just because your leftovers don’t smell bad. Some disease-carrying bacteria doesn’t necessarily change a food’s smell or even taste, so it’s best to practice proper cooking and storage guidelines to avoid cross-contamination.