HOUSTON (KIAH) — Every year, Americans look forward to enjoying Thanksgiving with family and friends. While the COVID-19 pandemic is still top-of-mind, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds us all that it’s also important to keep family and friends safe from foodborne illness this Thanksgiving.
“Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times to remind people about food safety,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I personally know how much effort it takes to prepare a full Thanksgiving meal, and I always ensure I’m following safe food practices like handwashing, using a food thermometer and avoiding cross-contamination.”
By following the tips below, you’ll lessen the chances of having a visit from foodborne illness — an unwelcome visitor — at your table this Thanksgiving.
What to do with your Thanksgiving leftovers
After the meal (but within the two-hour rule), separate larger quantities of leftovers in small shallow containers and place them in the refrigerator. Thanksgiving leftovers are safely stored in a refrigerator for up to four days. In the freezer, leftovers can be safely frozen indefinitely but will keep best quality for two to six months. Reheat leftovers to an internal temperature of 165 F. Check the internal temperature of the food in several places with a food thermometer after allowing a resting time.
For Thanksgiving food safety questions, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), email MPHotline@usda.gov or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.
Do you have any last-minute turkey day questions? The Meat and Poultry Hotline will be open on Thanksgiving Day from 8am-2pm EST.
Check out the USDA FoodKeeper App, which helps to reduce food waste by providing food and beverage storage information. For more information about FoodKeeper, you may view the FoodKeeper website. Access news releases and other information at USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) website at www.fsis.usda.gov/newsroom. Follow FSIS on Twitter at twitter.com/usdafoodsafety or in Spanish at: twitter.com/usdafoodsafe_es.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production; fairer markets for all producers; ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities; building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices; making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America; and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.