Do We Really Have To Eat Leftovers Within 4 Days?
We’ve all eaten leftovers that are likely past their prime — opened a container, sniffed and checked to ensure no signs of mold, taken a few bites to “check and see” and then dove in with little regard to the potential sickness that could ensue.
Yet, according to the FDA, leftovers are ultra-time-sensitive items, to be cooked and eaten three to four days after preparation. To get a more realistic idea of how long leftovers are OK to eat, we spoke with microbiologist Andrea Casero and food scientist Guy Crosby. It turns out that in many cases, there’s some wiggle room.
The FDA notes that cooked leftovers should be refrigerated or frozen two hours after preparation, and that leftovers should be eaten or thrown out four days after refrigeration.
While food safety is a serious and important concern, unless you’re marking all your Tupperwares with “Best By” dates, there is likely some room for error.
According to Peter Cassell, the press officer at the FDA, “It’s a general recommendation that is based on the growth rates of bacteria and proper storage. Generally, use by dates, with the exception of infant formula, are not exact safety dates and are more about the quality from the manufacturer.”