This is how many days its safe to eat your leftover Christmas dinner

(Picture: Getty)

We love Christmas leftovers. Mishmash plates of whatever we can find in the fridge, topped off with a wedge of Stilton and 13 pickled onions.

Turkey stew, bubble and squeak, stuffing warmed up in the microwave – it doesnt get better than that.

We want to be eating Christmas sandwiches for days. But just how many days is it safe to keep wolfing down those leftovers?

When should you call it a day and finally chuck out the endless Tupperware and clingfilm-covered bowls that are teetering in the fridge?

(Picture: Getty)

Food experts have issued a warning that people need to be careful with leftovers this Christmas – particularly when food has been left out of the fridge.

Talking to The Conversation, Dr Duane Mellor, Dr Claire Munialo and Lisa Winnall, lecturers in food, nutrition and safety at Coventry University, explain just how long its safe to keep eating all your favourite festive food.

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The UK Food Standards Agency says cooked turkey should be eaten or frozen within two days of cooking.

You need to be extra careful if you plan on warming your turkey up.

Make sure you never reheat the meat more than once – this can provide the perfect environment for bacteria to grow and produce toxins.

Although heating the meat above 75°C for a second or third time will kill the bacteria, it wont destroy the toxins.


The good news for cheese-lovers is that it will likely keep over the holiday – as long as you keep it wrapped up.

The problem with having exposed cheese left out on a table is that it can quickly start growing mould. But even if this happens, all is not lost.

food safety experts suggest that its OK to cut off any mould that has grown on hard cheese.

But soft cheeses, should be discarded if they are mouldy. And they need strict temperature control, so just serve what you think youll eat and keep the rest in the fridge.

Smoked salmon

This one really needs to stay in the fridge – and the smell will soon tell you if youve forgotten.

Experts suggest that smoked salmon should be used within three days of opening, unless the use by date is sooner.

To stop it from drying out, you should keep it in its original package and then wrap cling film around it or put it in a self-sealing plastic bag.

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Pigs in blankets

Once the pigs in blankets have cooled down, any leftovers should be wrapped in foil or clingfilm and kept in the fridge.

This stops them from being contaminated by other food, and is a good food safety rule to apply to any cooked leftovers.

Experts say they should be eaten within three days, so pile them on your plate.

(Picture: Getty)


If your stuffing is veggie, and is made with predominantly bread, spices and vegetables, then you can keep eating it for four days – as long as its kept in the fridge or somewhere cool.

But if your stuffing includes sausage meat, it should be eaten within three days.

The experts also say that if you make your stuffing in the traditional way, you might want to reconsider.

Putting stuffing inside the cavity of your roast bird is not recommended as it can make it difficult to get the meat up to a high enough temperature to kill off all the bacteria.

Wine and mulled wine

Surely you can keep drinking wine forever? Apparently not.

Well, technically you can, but it probably wont taste great.

Leaving wine open is less of a safety issue as alcohol is a preservative. It is more about quality and flavour.

An open bottle will allow the oxygen in the air to react with chemicals in the wine, including polyphenols, leading to a loss of colour and fruity flavours.

Sparkling wines lose their fizz after a day or two, but fortified wines, like port and sherry, are drinkable for up to four weeks after opening, if stored in a cool place.


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