Readers, let’s talk turkey.

On Thursday, most of Yuma County will make a massive feast.

Without a doubt, it will be delicious: turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, veggies … and best part of all – dessert!

Once that meal is done, the food coma sets in, and off we wander to the couch to watch football and digest the meal, right?

It’s a long day of cooking and eating, and when it’s all said and done, that overstuffed arm chair looks awfully inviting.

But before you settle in for a long afternoon snooze, there’s one thing you’ve got to take care of first: putting away the food.

The goal is to keep those Thanksgiving leftovers safe to eat for the next few days. Leaving them out too long can open the door to bacteria, which can in turn make your food unsafe. And after all the time you just spent making that meal, the leftovers are part of the reward.

According to the USDA, an estimated 48 million people in the U.S. get sick from food borne illness every year – and mind you, we’re talking the full year, not just on Thanksgiving. Those illnesses lead to 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths annually.

Food poisoning is no joke.

So what do you need to do to stay safe? Here’s what the USDA recommends:

• Remember the two-hour rule: Refrigerate any perishable foods within two hours of coming out of the oven or refrigerator. If it’s been out longer than that, toss it out.

• Freeze or consume your leftovers with four days: Use the Monday after Thanksgiving as a reminder that it’s the last day you can safely eat leftovers. If you want them longer, freeze them within that four-day window.

• Reheat to 165 F: That’s the safe temperature for reheating your food, as measured with a food thermometer.

• Microwave food safely: Make sure you cover and rotate the food in the microwave for even heating.

This Thanksgiving, after you enjoy that holiday feast, make sure to practice these safe leftover practices, and stay healthy, readers!

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