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Updated Nov 28, 2013 - 10:55 am

Keeping leftovers fresh after Thanksgiving

After days of preparation, you'll definitely want to make sure your favorite dishes are kept fresh after your Thanksgiving meal.

Harmony Duport with the Arizona Department of Health Services said it's important to monitor how long your food has been sitting out.

"Any food that has been left out at room temperature for more than four hours should be discarded," said Duport. "If it hasn't been left out for that time, it has to go in the refrigerator and has to be cooled rapidly."

Duport suggested to cool foods in shallow pans and avoid covering them. Once the food cools down, put a lid on it and store it in the refrigerator. She also warned to avoid keeping leftovers for longer than seven days.

Once that food is in the refrigerator, make sure not to contaminate it with any other meats you might have saved.

"If you have raw meats in the refrigerator, we recommend those are stored towards the bottom," Duport explained. "Then you would store casseroles or any foods that have been cooked above the raw meats, so that meat doesn't drip and contaminate ready-to-eat food."

She added that a good rule of thumb when reheating leftovers is setting a temperature of 165 degrees for 15 seconds in the microwave.

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