Youre storing Christmas leftovers wrong as expert reveals when food goes off

The few days after Christmas are all about the leftovers – turkey sandwiches, turkey curry and chocolate feature with pretty much every meal.

People don't like their festive food to go to waste after the big day, but a food safety expert said some things can actually go off a lot quicker than you'd think.

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We all want to make sure we waste as less as possible over the festive season, but it's important to follow a few guidelines if you want to make sure things stay fresh.

Here is how you can make the most of your grub before it starts to become unappetising.

Store things at the right temperature

If you want your leftovers to last as long as possible then you need to make sure you keep the food at the right temperature.

"When you serve food, hot food should be kept hot, and cold foods should be kept cold", University of Sydney academic and food safety expert Dr Kim-Yen Phan-Thien told

Dr Phan-Thien said when food isn't kept in these two extreme temperatures they begin to enter the "danger zone".

She said food needs to be kept above 60C or below 5C.

Anything in between this is considered the "danger zone", and can lead to encouraging "microbial growth."

Avoid leaving food out

We all know we can spend a lot of time around the dinner table over Christmas, but you need to make sure your food stays fresh.

If food has been kept out for several hours it shouldn't really be kept and eaten as leftovers.

Dr Phan-Thien added: "If it’s spent four hours at ambient temperature, some pathogens will grow.

"So it’s better to manage your food by putting out smaller portions, keeping the rest stored appropriately in the fridge, and bringing out and replenishing as necessary."

It's said food can be left out for around two hours before it needs to be put in the fridge.

"While it depends on the food, it’s usually safe to eat within the next two to three days, and it’s essential food that was hot is reheated well," she added.

"A turkey roast is generally safe to eat when cooked properly as the treatment will kill any pathogens there."

But she said if you're going to store and eat leftovers, it's important to refrigerate or freeze them as soon as you can.

Arranging the fridge

Fridges make sure our food doesn't go off, but they only manage to keep everything in top tip condition if the temperature is consistent.

While it's tempting to pile up the shelves to fit everything in – try not to – as it can prevent things from chilling properly.

Dr Phan-Thien‘s advice is to stay away from packing large amounts into single containers.

The expert said you should also leave food out until it stops steaming to make sure any potential condensation is avoided.

She said: "You can do things to increase the rate of cooling to help your food and your fridge out, like putting the food on ice for a bit to bring the temperature down before you stick it in the fridge."


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