FSAI warning on how long Christmas leftovers last before they could make you sick

Tired cooks are thankful that leftovers will give them respite today with ham and turkey sandwiches feeding the nation.

But anyone hoping the Christmas dinner leftovers will keep them out of the kitchen for the week are sadly mistaken.

The majority of your dinner, especially your meats, need to be eaten within two to three days of being cooked – and that’s only if they are stored properly.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland state: “Leftovers should be used within 2-3 days and stored in the fridge at between 0-5°C during this time.

“They can be reheated as long as they are heated to 70°C or higher. Food should be very hot and steaming before it is served. It is important when reheating stews and casseroles that the liquid boils for around 3-5 minutes to ensure the pieces of meat are completely heated through. Leftovers should only be reheated once.”

You will also need to have been quick with getting them in the fridge, because food left out for too long will quickly go off.

How the Christmas dinner is cooked is the main source of disagreement
How the Christmas dinner is cooked is the main source of disagreement

The advice continues: “Following cooking, food which will not be consumed immediately should be cooled as quickly as possible and refrigerated. After cooking, once the steam has evaporated from the food, it should be covered and stored in the fridge.

“Food should not be left out of the fridge to cool down completely. To speed up the cooling process large quantities of food, such as stews and roast joints of meat, should be portioned into smaller lots.

“Do not overload the fridge with warm food as this will raise the overall temperature of the fridge which increases the possibility of bacteria growing in the food.”

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