Just Say No to Extended Leftovers!

Categories: Food News

Office Fridge.JPG
Kinda reminds you of your post-Thanksgiving fridge at home, doesn't it?
You're not still doing it are you? Perhaps you crave two slices of bread, a little Miracle Whip and then a spoonful of anything and everything from the apothecary of Tupperware in your fridge? Maybe you prefer your leftovers on small plates, microwaved individually so you can watch a golf ball glob of gravy melt decadently over your potatoes. You could be a strict utilitarian, standing by the refrigerator door, fork in hand, feeding your cravings bite by bite.

Whatever your left-over strategy, it's time to stop.

Party's over people. According to the Mayo Clinic and the USDA, unless you froze your turkey bits, you're playing Russian roulette with the ol' G.I. tract if you indulge anymore food you prepared on Thanksgiving.

Make it a point to clean out your refrigerator tonight. There's lots more holiday cooking to come.

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My Voice Nation Help

This fridge looks familar...


Absolute BS.

1. Mayo/USDA have to err on the side of caution just for liability issues. This "four-day rule" is "optimal" and way, way conservative.

2. If five-day-old leftovers were a serious health risk, we'd have half the nation bent over in clinics with food poisoning. We don't.

3. Cooking kills pathogens. Refrigerators are designed to keep food in an environment ill-suited for contaminant growth. Just where is this mad rush of food-borne bacteria coming from on that fifth day? Only a few pathogens can actually flourish at fridge temps.

4. Keep any raw foods in the fridge? Eggs? Bacon? Fruit? Veg? Milk? Cheese? Better throw those out after four days too, if you truly believe this advice. Bet you don't, though.

I'm not saying you can't keep leftovers for too long. I'm also not disagreeing that more than four days mathematically "increases risk," but in the same way that having chips with your sandwich incrementally "increases your risk" of a heart attack, or the same way flying on a commercial airliner "increases exposure" to harmful radiation. We're talking wee probabilities, not serious changes in personal risk.

This advice is like the "best before" date on milk -- it doesn't automatically go bad according to the calendar. Some foods won't keep for four days. Some dishes are good for weeks. Use some common sense.

Happily enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch today and the rest of this week. Skirting the line between life and death with five-day-old leftovers.

ScottsMerkin topcommenter

4 day rule folks, if you have not consumed leftovers by the 4th day 1) you probably are not going to eat it, and 2) its probably not good anymore either.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Your fridge is in dire need of organizing.  I'll come over later and see to it.


checked out the webpages linked on this post. turns out Mayo and USDA are really into healthy living and nutritious eating. no way they could offer up an objective opinion on this subject. btw your fridge looks more like the recycle bin with all the plastic bags and containers.


comment didn't make it via the new commenting system; and I don't have the strength to rethink or retype. 

ps-turkey leftover's never get old!  ever.


Okay, I don't ever want to hear any more beer snobbery from the staff at City of Ate. Everyone drinks bud, coors, or miller light from time to time. Thanks for exhibit A, Scott.

scott.reitz moderator

@JustSaying Whoa dude. Who you calling beer snob? I'm an equal opportunity imbiber, bud.

Exhibit B, 


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