Food Safety: How long can you keep leftovers in the fridge?

When it comes to leftovers, how long can you wait to eat them if they have been in the refrigerator? Or what about those cold cuts you got last week? Are they still safe? Dietitian Meridan Zerner from Cooper Clinic has some advice.

CLEANSE TO KEEP AWAY FOOD POISONING:

  • Clean - wash hand and surfaces often
  • Use different cutting boards and utensils for different foods
  • Wash and rinse veggies and fruits, but NOT meat poultry and eggs
  • Adding vinegar to the mix may help kill even more bacteria
  • Separate foods on counter and in fridge
  • Cook it!
  • Chill or refrigerate perishable foods within 2 hours - NEVER thaw on the counter

FOOD STORAGE & LEFTOVERS:

Lunch Meat

  • Opened package or deli sliced - 3 to 5 days (fridge), 1 to 2 months (freezer)
  • Unopened package - 2 weeks (fridge), 1 to 2 months (freezer)

Fresh Poultry

  • Chicken or turkey, whole - 1 to 2 days (fridge), 1 year (freezer)
  • Chicken or turkey, pieces - 1 to 2 days (fridge), 9 months (freezer)

Leftovers

  • Soups & stews with vegetable or meat added - 3 to 4 days (fridge), 2 to 3 months (freezer)
  • Cooked meat or poultry - 3 to 4 days (fridge), 2 to 6 months (freezer)
  • Chicken nuggets or patties - 3 to 4 days (fridge), 1 to 3 months (freezer)
  • Pizza - 3 to 4 days (fridge), 1 to 2 months (freezer)

For more food safety questions, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline: 1-888-MPHotline.

LINKS:
www.fsis.usda.gov
www.cooperaerobics.com

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