Holiday leftovers could put you at risk for foodborne illnesses - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Holiday leftovers could put you at risk for foodborne illnesses

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Holiday leftovers could put you at risk for foodborne illnesses. Holiday leftovers could put you at risk for foodborne illnesses.
Holiday leftovers could put you at risk for foodborne illnesses. Holiday leftovers could put you at risk for foodborne illnesses.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) - Opening the fridge and grabbing some leftovers is practically a holiday tradition of its own, but there could be hidden dangers lurking in those containers and eating leftovers could make you very sick. 

"About 1 in 6 Americans get food borne illnesses every year," Jenita Lyons, Health and Wellness Manager at Norton Children’s said. 

An estimated 400,000 Americans get sick from Christmas leftovers specifically. Leaving food out at an unsafe temperature is one of the main causes of foodborne illness.

The USDA explains that bacteria in food left out for more than two hours double in number every 20 minutes, and some bacteria make a poison or toxin that can make you ill, hence the term “food poisoning.” 

"When we leave food out at room temperature, that is what we call a danger zone,” Lyons said.  

The danger zone is classified as temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, because bacteria grow most rapidly in that range. Within two hours of being served, the leftovers should be safely tucked away at home in the refrigerator where they can safely remain for three to four days.

When it comes to leftovers it's better to be safe than sorry, but here is what to look out for just in case you do eat contaminated food:

  • Upset stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Dehydration

If any of these symptoms become severe, it's best to seek medical treatment. 

Be sure to pass these tips on to your kids as well— to keep everyone in your home healthy through the holidays. 

For links to food safety resources, click here or click here. 

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