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Verifying how long you can eat Thanksgiving leftovers

Thanksgiving is over. But there’s a good chance you have some food leftover in your fridge. So exactly how long are they good for?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Some people love Thanksgiving leftovers more than they love the original meal. Google Trends shows searches for “how long do Thanksgiving leftovers last” spiked in the days leading up to the holiday. But experts say don't bank on those leftovers holding you over for too long.

THE QUESTION 

Can you eat leftovers for a week after Thanksgiving?

THE SOURCES 

THE ANSWER 

This is false.

No, you should not eat leftovers for a week after Thanksgiving.

WHAT WE FOUND 

According to the Mayo Clinic, refrigerated leftovers, whether they’re Thanksgiving leftovers or any other leftovers, should be eaten within three to four days. The clinic says after that, the risk of food poisoning increases.

“I sort of use this as my rule of thumb, my mom always said the three-day rule," DeMarco said. "And I think realistically, that's probably a good rule of thumb."

The USDA says the Monday after Thanksgiving is the last day to safely eat leftovers adding that “after four days, spoilage bacteria can cause food to develop a bad smell or taste.”

“You really have to enjoy the leftovers before Cyber Monday is over,” Stefanski said.

RELATED: 4 ways your Thanksgiving turkey could make you sick

The safety of leftovers is also dependent on when the food is stored.

The USDA says it’s best to refrigerate perishable foods in a shallow container within two hours.

"When food is at room temperature, they call it the food temperature danger zone," Stefanski said, adding, "Foods really shouldn't be in that danger zone, you know, more than a few hours.”

VERIFY: No, hot food doesn’t need to cool down before going in the fridge

Circle your calendar for Monday, Nov. 29. If you haven’t eaten them by then, throw them out -- or at least move them to the freezer.

Contact Meghan Bragg at mbragg@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit /verify.

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