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Reheating Turkey Leftovers

November 20, 2006

Part of the pleasure from holiday turkey dinners is enjoying the leftovers. But we need to use caution to be sure leftovers are handled properly to prevent foodborne illness. Leftovers should have been refrigerated or frozen within two hours after serving. In other words, perishable foods should not be at room temperature for more than two hours. Exception to the rule is one hour if room temperature is above 90 degrees F.

According to the Food Safety Inspection Service with U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooked turkey may be eaten cold or reheated, if leftovers were handled properly. When reheating turkey in the oven, the following is suggested by FSIS/USDA:

  • Set oven temperature no lower than 325 degrees F
  • Reheat turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degreesF. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature
  • To keep the turkey moist, add a little broth or water and cover
  • To reheat turkey in the microwave, important food safety tips include:
  • Cover the food and rotate for even heating. Be sure to allow standing time
  • Check the internal temperature of the food with a food thermometer to make sure it reaches 165 degreesF
  • Check your microwave owner's manual for recommended times and power levels

For more information about food safety, visit the USDA website at: www.fsis.usda.gov

Source: Jananne Finck, Extension Educator, Nutrition and Wellness, finckj@uiuc.edu