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CNN Today

Turkey Redux: Handling Leftovers Safely

Aired November 23, 2000 - 1:41 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: So what is one of the best Thanksgiving traditions? You got it: leftovers. Lots of you will be eating turkey and fixings for days to come. But if they're not handled safely, leftovers can be dangerous.

Our Medical correspondent Linda Ciampa tells us how to keep eating them safely.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LINDA CIAMPA, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Thanksgiving dinner winds down, the threat for food poisoning may be just beginning. One consumer group says more than 400,000 people get sick every year from bacteria that thrive when leftovers aren't cooled or stored properly.

CAROLINE SMITH DEWAAL, CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: Some germs can survive cooking and others can enter the food through normal handling. If these germs are allowed to grow, then you can't always cook them out and make the food safe again.

CIAMPA: To keep leftovers safe, CSPI recommends a 2-2-4 rule: get food from the oven to the refrigerator in two hours or less; store leftovers in two-inch containers; and eat refrigerated leftovers within four days.

KATHLEEN ZEHMAN, AMERICAN DIETETIC ASSOCIATION: If you put your whole turkey carcass in the refrigerator, it will take hours before it can cool down and kill that bacteria. So what you want to do is take turkey off the bone; any large meat, large product you should cut into smaller portions, wrap it tightly, put it into small containers.

CIAMPA: Another key in beating bacteria: make sure the refrigerator is cold enough. One survey found almost a quarter of Americans don't keep the fridge at the right temperature.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I keep it on nine, which is cold. I don't know!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fifty-eight degrees?

CIAMPA: Your refrigerator should be kept at 40 degrees. And when reheating leftovers: ZEHMAN: When you reheat gravy and sauces, you need to put it on the stove, bring it to a boil, and hold that boil for one minute. Other foods, leftover stuffing, mashed potatoes, turkey, you need to make it steaming hot. Use your thermometer and check to make sure that everything is at 165 Fahrenheit.

CIAMPA (on camera): Food scientists say freezing leftovers will keep food safe almost indefinitely, but they say in order for leftovers to taste good, you should use them up within a couple of months.

Linda Ciampa, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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