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Viral video claims putting leftovers in a container with a lid and into the fridge creates pathogens. Here's the truth

A viral video online claims that throwing those leftovers in a container with a lid and into the fridge creates pathogens. Experts say no it doesn't.

WASHINGTON — After Thanksgiving Day 2021 is in the books, you may still have turkey and stuffing for days.

But, a viral video claims the way you store your leftovers could make them unsafe.

Social media can be a breeding ground for misinformation and fake experts; not even Thanksgiving is safe. When it comes to leftovers, we went to the experts to find out what’s the safest way to store them.

A TikTok video has been viewed more than 3.5 million times and it’s making some big claims about food safety. In the video the self-proclaimed “food safety expert” said, “[If you] put a lid on hot food and tried to stick it in the fridge, that’s bad! It that will create foodborne pathogens.”

QUESTION:

Is it unsafe to put hot leftovers in a container in the fridge?

OUR SOURCES:

ANSWER: 

Everyone agreed: There’s nothing wrong with putting hot food in your fridge.

WHAT WE FOUND:

The expert did give us some food safety 101, starting with something called "The Danger Zone."

The Danger Zone refers to food left at temperatures between 40° and 140 degrees. It’s not quite cold and not quite hot. It is the perfect condition for bacteria to grow.

The expert said it’s best to divvy up large portions into smaller ones so the food can get cooler quicker.

For instance, a big pot of soup should be in multiple, shallow containers. Larger things, like turkey, should be cut into smaller portions.

Our experts said there is nothing wrong with adding a lid. In fact, the USDA said lids can keep bacteria out, retain moisture, and prevent leftovers from picking up odors from other food in the fridge.

So we can verify, no, simply putting a lid on hot leftovers in the fridge won’t create dangerous pathogens. A bigger problem is food sitting at room temperature, in that danger zone,  for more than two hours.

Another question you might ask: How long should you keep leftovers in the fridge? Our experts said if you still have them in the refrigerator next Thursday that’s too long.

Refrigerated food can be kept for three to four days. Frozen food can last three to four months.

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