Turkey Basics: Handling Cooked Dinners

Take-out Dinners Hot from the Oven

Eating Within 2 hours? 
Pick up the food hot — and keep it hot. Keeping food warm is not enough. Harmful bacteria multiply fastest between 40 and 140 °F.

Set oven temperature high enough to keep the turkey at 140 °F or above. Use a food thermometer to check. Stuffing and side dishes must also stay hot (at 140 °F or above). Covering with foil will help keep the food moist.

Eating Much Later? 
It’s not a good idea to keep food hot longer than 2 hours. It is better if you:

  • Remove all stuffing from the turkey cavity immediately and refrigerate it.
  • Cut turkey into smaller pieces and refrigerate. Slice breast meat; legs and wings may be left whole.
  • Refrigerate potatoes, gravy, and vegetables in shallow containers.

Reheat thoroughly to 165 °F or until hot and steaming. Bring gravy to a rolling boil.

In the microwave oven, cover food and rotate dish so it heats evenly. Follow the microwave manufacturer’s instructions.

Cooked and Refrigerated

Keep Cold Food Cold 
Refrigerate cold food as soon as you get home (always within 2 hours). Serve your meal within 3 to 4 days.

Reheating a Whole Turkey is NOT Recommended. If you plan to reheat a turkey, cut the meat into smaller pieces. Slice breast meat. Legs and wings may be left whole. Refrigerate in shallow containers.

Exception: Cooked turkeys with the USDA inspection seal on the packaging have been processed under controlled conditions. Follow package directions for reheating and storing.
Read the full report here.
As published by the USDA on HealthyExaminer.com