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Not All Your Thanksgiving Leftovers Are Safe To Reheat, Eat

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MIAMI (CBSMIAMI) -- If you have leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner – beware: not all your favorite dishes may be safe to reheat and eat.

Clinical Dietitian Lindsey Malone of the Cleveland Clinic says – don't save the rice. When it cools at room temperature, bacteria can grow rapidly.

"That bacteria is resistant to heat so even if you are heating to the normal temperature, it doesn't matter that bacteria is still going to be there," said Malone.

Another staple to toss: potatoes cooked in aluminum foil.

"Letting it cool into that temperature danger zone and also keeping the foil on it, you have created this bacteria breeding ground. You may not heat it sufficiently to kill the bacteria," said Malone.

Foods with a high moisture content like stuffing should also be thrown away.

When it comes to poultry, Malone says, reheat it to the proper internal temperature to avoid bacteria and don't store the whole bird.

"Again setting up the situation for bacterial growth, cut it up into smaller portions, cool it quickly, store it within two hours," said Malone.

The very young, old and those with compromised immune systems are more vulnerable to foodborne illnesses, so it's best to avoid having a refrigerator full of leftovers.

"For foods that you do plan on saving, make sure you get that food into shallow containers and into the refrigerator within two hours," said Malone.

If you are going to reheat the leftovers, use the oven, not the microwave. It's not the quickest, but it cooks more evenly.

Malone says it's best to toss any leftovers after 3 to 4 days.

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