Thanksgiving Leftover Lunch Safety

Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch on Monday? Find out if they are safe to eat in this super short podcast!

Dan Clark tells of the 2-2-4 formula for storing all of that leftover holiday food. It’s good advice for anyone taking leftovers for lunch at work.

Also in this podcast, Dan reveals a surprising truth about pumpkin pie.


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Thanksgiving_Leftover_Lunch_Safety-Creative_Safety_Supply-250x250Dan Clark: Don’t tote a bag of bacteria for lunch! Let’s find out just how long those Thanksgiving leftovers can last.

Hi there, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.

If food is left out for more than two hours, bacteria begin to grow. In fact they double every 20 minutes. So, get your Thanksgiving spread stored and chilled within two hours of serving. This way, you’ll have some grazing goodness for the weekend, and maybe, just maybe, some lunch on the Monday after Thanksgiving. But that’s the time limit, unless you froze it.

Leftovers can be kept in the refrigerator for just three to four days, so your Monday lunch is at the edge of leftover edibility. If the leftovers were frozen, they’re good for up to six months.

Use the 2-2-4 formula. 2 hours, 2 inches, 4 days. Wha?

2 hours: Stow all leftovers in the fridge, or freeze them, no more than two hours after cooking. If food’s been out for more than two hours, say adios.

2 inches: Use shallow containers, about 2 inches deep, to store the food. This will allow it to cool quickly and evenly.

4 days: Eat leftovers within four days. Holiday food kept longer than that should be tossed, unless it’s frozen.

This 2-2-4 formula is from William Stallings, clinical dietitian at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia.

And a final note: It may look great on the counter, but pumpkin pie has milk and eggs. Keep it in the refrigerator and on ice in your lunchbox.


That’s all for this episode on Thanksgiving Leftover Lunch Safety. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply.


The USDA has facts on Loving Leftovers.

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