Using Christmas leftovers safely

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Still burdened by Christmas leftovers? Rarely if ever do we manage to get through the mountain of food and drink that we buy for the festivities, although I’d guess the turkey sandwiches are finished by now?

Minimise waste safely

It makes perfect sense to minimise waste by looking to use up the Christmas leftovers but you need to do so safely. No one wants to kick off the New Year with food poisoning! Fundamental food safety advice exists for good reason and reliance on odour and appearance alone may not be enough. Harmful germs may be impossible to detect including high profile conditions such as salmonella and E. Coli.

Use by / Best Before

A product labelled as “use by” will go off relatively quickly, and can be harmful if consumed after the displayed date. However, products with a date labelled as “best before” will be longer lasting, and may not be at its best quality after this date, whilst remaining safe to consume.

It is possible to keep food frozen up until the displayed use by date. Before freezing, the packaging should say if the product is suitable for freezing. The food should also be left to cool down before being put into the freezer. When thawing the product, it should be defrosted completely, consumed within 24 hours, and should not be refrozen.

Freezing and storage of Christmas leftovers

It’s certainly ok to have frozen some of your Christmas leftovers, as long as it was done pretty promptly. It’s usually better to split food into smaller portions, cover them and then put them in the fridge. Any food left over should be consumed within two days, and reheated only once. Food should also be covered with or kept in airtight packaging, such as sandwich bags, storage containers or cling film before being stored. They should be stored for no longer than three or four days if kept in the fridge, or up to three to four months if kept in the freezer.

A simple way of using leftovers from the Christmas day dinner would be to take any meat and vegetables, and make a stew or casserole out of them. Stews or casseroles create excellent winter food solutions on long, dark, cold days into the New Year.

Stay healthy in the New Year

So be sure to enjoy any Christmas leftovers and make the most of what you bought in for the festive period. Stay sensible and alert to the possible dangers and be sure to take note of the information and the spirit of Christmas can live long into the New Year!