Have Thanksgiving leftovers? USDA offers tips on how to safely store them for later

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering some safety tips to keep in mind as you start to pack up your Thanksgiving leftovers.

Have Thanksgiving leftovers? USDA offers tips on how to safely store them for later

CLEVELAND (WJW) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is offering some safety tips to keep in mind as you start to pack up your Thanksgiving leftovers.

For starters, you should follow the two hour rule. That means all perishable items should be refrigerated within two hours of coming out of the oven or fridge.

"After two hours, perishable food enters the Danger Zone (between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit) where bacteria can multiply quickly and cause the food to become unsafe. If foods have been left out for more than two hours, discard items to prevent foodborne illness," experts explained.

You should also consider using small and shallow containers to help cool leftovers more quickly. In addition, you should freeze any food you don't plan on eating by Monday at the latest. Anything not being frozen should be consumed within that four day period.

"If you store leftovers in the freezer, they will be of best quality within two to six months. Reheat leftovers to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit," they noted.

Finally, check the temperature of food you're microwaving to ensure its warmed thoroughly.

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