November 26, 2008

Avoiding Black Friday leftover illness

Overstuff yourself on Turkey Day, but don't overstuff the refrigerator, which can cause food-borne illness, a U.S. dietitian advises.

Brenda Jones of the Baylor Medical Center in Irving, Texas, says cool air needs to circulate in the refrigerate to keep food safe and ensure Thanksgiving leftovers eaten on Black Friday and after don't make anyone sick.

A lack of understanding leads many to experience food-borne illnesses during the holidays, Jones said in a statement. Although most cases are mild and cause symptoms only for a day or two, it can be a very unpleasant few days.

Jones advises keeping food-borne bacteria at bay by refrigerating or freezing leftovers within two hours of cooking the food. Turkey should be cut into small pieces and turkey and stuffing stored in separate containers. Containers should be two inches or less high. Leftover gravy should be brought to a boil on the stove before serving it, Jones says.

Because we are all stuffed and tired following a holiday meal, you should prepare for putting away the leftovers before the meal, said Jones. Clear out the refrigerator and make sure you have some clean shallow containers available.