I know what you are thinking. “I have all of this food left over from the holidays and it’s a shame for it to go to waste.” Once a dish is made or cooked (by you, a market, or restaurant, etc.), leftovers are safe to eat for three (3) days. Beyond that, there is a risk of getting foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning.
“But I have been eating week old leftovers without any trouble for years!” Adults who are healthy may experience nothing or have a passing, minor illness with foodborne illness. Have a chronic disease, are over 65 years, or under age 5, foodborne illness can be a more serious event. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 48 million people get sick every year from food poisoning. Making things more complicated is the fact that some foodborne illnesses can occur hours or days after eating the spoiled or contaminated food which can then make it challenging to determine which food is the offender.
Here are resources to help sort out how long food is safe to eat:
- Partnership for Food Safety Education with focus on four core concepts: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill
- USDA Food Keeper app
- USDA Food Safety Charts by type of food and food safety during a power outage,
So, two days from now step away from the leftovers….they need to be tossed out. My mantra about food is “don’t pay for it twice.”
Happy and healthful eating,
Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN