(WJW) – With the Thanksgiving feast now over, the clock is ticking on how long you have to finish the leftovers.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are important safety steps to follow.

  • Two-hour rule: Perishable food that isn’t refrigerated needs to be eaten within two hours of coming out of the oven or refrigerator can become unsafe. Bacteria can multiply quickly between 40 F and 140 F.
  • Use shallow containers in the refrigerator until the Monday after Thanksgiving.
  • Eat or freeze leftovers within four days.
  • Reheat leftovers to 165 F. Sauce or gravy should be brought to a rolling boil.
  • If microwaving to reheat, remember that microwaves have cold spots and you should check the internal temperature of the food in several places.
  • It’s safe to reheat frozen leftovers without thawing first.

If you have questions about food safety, you can contact the USDA Meat and Poultry hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).