The USDA Says It's No Longer Safe to Eat Thanksgiving Leftovers

We’re sorry to break the news to you, but it’s time to say goodbye to the nearly week-old mashed potatoes sitting in your fridge.

The United States Department of Agriculture announced that Monday was the last day your Thanksgiving leftovers were safe to eat due to concern for listeria.

According to the Center for Disease Control, Listeriosis is a serious infection that is most harmful to people with weak immune systems, newborns, adults over the age of 65 and pregnant women. If you’re refrigerator is not cold enough, the bacteria can grow on your leftovers and cause the illness.

To fight this fast growing bacteria, which develops when food is between 40 to 140 degrees, recommends refrigerating leftovers within two hours after serving. But if you’re not sure of the temperature of your fridge, it’s best to not risk eating leftovers after more than four days.

“A good rule to follow is, when in doubt, throw it out,” Marjorie Davidson, a consumer educator at FDA, says.

But there’s still some good news! If you thought ahead and put your leftovers in the freezer after Thanksgiving, it’s still safe to eat them after defrosting in the refrigerator for up to 7 days, according to Cheryl Clay, public health environmental supervisor for the Madison County Health Department.

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