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PSA: Today Is (Probably) the Last Day To Safely Eat Thanksgiving Leftovers

Friends Thanksgiving episode, Monica with a turkey on her head.

Friends, I come bearing bad tidings for your Thanksgiving leftovers: Today, Monday, is the last day for you to safely eat them. Any day after today, and, well, you proceed at your own risk. Do not make an offering to the unpitying Gods of the porcelain food poisoning throne. I promise you, it is not worth it.

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That’s right, despite what it feels like, your Thanksgiving leftovers do not last forever. In fact, they have a relatively short shelf-life, like all food. That means, if you made any of the dishes before Thursday, I regret to inform you that their expiration date has already passed.

This is not just me basing this on vibes, I promise you, before you want to open this notion up for a public discussion. This edict comes straight from the top: the federal government.

How long do the turkey and trimmings stay safe in the refrigerator or freezer?

The answer is simple: leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for three to four days. This means you have until the Monday after Thanksgiving to eat all those delicious leftovers or place them in the freezer to enjoy later. If you store leftovers in the freezer, they will be of best quality within 2-6 months.


Now, I’ve been on the internet long enough to know someone is out there right now, chowing down on homemade mayo that is at least a week old, and saying to their screen, “I’ve been doing this forever, and I’ve never been sick.” To that I say, sure friend, but also, did you know in Wisconsin during the holidays, it’s a regional tradition to eat raw hamburger meat on a slice of white bread, with raw onions, and seasoned with salt and pepper?

They call it a cannibal sandwich, and one of my favorite things to do is seek out the local news articles that beg Wisconsinites not to eat it, every year. Like clockwork. My point is that just because you’ve escaped the wrath of the food-poisoning powers that be doesn’t mean your luck will last forever, nor are the old ways of doing things the correct way of doing things.

Also, I feel compelled to mention this, but consuming raw ground beef is a very bad idea indeed, and homemade mayo only lasts for four days tops. The federal government knows this. They also know that too many of their citizens have no idea what proper food safety protocol is.

Not enough consumers know that food can become unsafe in the refrigerator after four days. In fact, 31 percent of participants in our recent research indicated they would eat leftovers kept longer than four days in the refrigerator. After four days, spoilage bacteria can cause food to develop a bad smell or taste.


Now, look, I’m not telling you to throw away any food that you made on Thanksgiving, after today. (I am telling you to do that if you made it before Thanksgiving, though.) You can safely freeze it now, and eat it later. However, keeping it in the fridge, now, is asking for trouble.

So, please, I beg you: If any of this is news to you, take a moment, go to this page on, and acquaint yourself on the guidelines. I say this not as a scold, but as an idiot who once didn’t cook her grocery store shrimp and went to town on them with cocktail sauce, and was sick for far longer than I thought humanly possible. Learn from my mistake. Embrace food safety. It may save you a lot of pain in the long run.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Kate Hudson
Kate Hudson (no, not that one) has been writing about pop culture and politics for five years, and is a Contributing Writer at The Mary Sue. With a deep and unwavering love of Twilight and Con Air, she absolutely understands her taste in pop culture is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. She has probably seen Cliffhanger more times than you. Team Edward 4-Eva.

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