Thanksgiving Leftovers Breeding Ground for Harmful Bacteria

At least 200,000 people will become ill from cooking mishaps, especially when it comes to reheating those holiday leftovers.

Health officials say the important thing is to get leftovers into smaller containers so they can cool down. Put them into the refrigerator where air can circulate, and don't stack them all on top of one another, because bacteria will grow.

The American Dietetic Association also recommends you follow these guidelines when reheating: When you reheat gravy and sauces, you need to put it on the stove, and bring it to a boil for about a minute. Other foods, such as leftover stuffing or mashed potatoes and turkey, you need to use a thermometer to make sure everything is heated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

The ADA also said for best quality, frozen leftover meats should be eaten within two months. Casseroles and stuffing within one month.

St. Joseph's Candler registered dieticians Andrea Manley and Lisa Herzig also said breads and pies can be kept for about a week. Also, don't refrigerate any leftovers in metal cans. And if you're unsure if it's okay to eat one of your leftovers, Andrea and Lisa's advice: when in doubt, throw it out.

Reported by: Melanie A. Ruberti,