Experts reveal when it's unsafe to eat your Christmas leftovers

29 December 2018, 12:21

Christmas dinner leftovers

...and turkey only lasts for two days!

There's nothing better than chowing down on some left over grub from Christmas Day the day after, knowing you no longer have to cook for at least a few more days if you're lucky.

But experts have warned that our festive leftovers may be more unsafe to eat than we thought and could make us ill if we leave them for too long.

While the occasional nibble of a cheese board or turkey sandwich with all the trimmings may sound harmless, a study has shown that not everything can be kept for as long as you may think.

Food academics at Coventry University have revealed their ultimate guide on how long certain foods should be kept and where we should store them.


Usually the pride and joy of most Christmas dinner tables, roast turkey should only be consumed or frozen within the first two days of cooking.

Senior lecturer of food safety and inspection, Lisa Winnall, recommends: 'If you prefer your leftover turkey warm, don’t reheat the meat more than once as this can provide extra opportunities for bacteria to grow and produce toxins.'

For extra precaution, festive chefs should put the leftover turkey in the fridge as soon as it's started to cool down.

Pigs In Blankets

On Christmas Day, this tasty side dish tastes perfect whether hot or cold, but experts have warned that they must be covered a put in the fridge as soon as possible.

One author of the study, Duane Mellow, senior lecturer in human nutrition, said: 'Pigs in blankets should be eaten within three days.'


What would a roast turkey dinner be without a bit of tasty stuffing to go with it, ey.

Whether you like you like your stuffing inside of the Turkey or roasted in a dish separately, even this side dish has a shelf life that should be adhered to.

Although third author, Claire Munialo, assures us that stuffing usually lasts for a little while depending on whether it includes meat or not.

'It should be kept in the fridge or in a cool place and consumed within four days of preparation.

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

If you're a fan of stuffing your turkey, experts have also warned that this method could be tricky.

'The traditional way of 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.'

Smoked Salmon

Usually used in some of our favourite Christmas appetisers, Salmon can be stockpiled in the freezer for up to three months.

However, the trio of experts have said: 'Smoked salmon should be kept in the fridge and used within three days of opening, unless the use by date is sooner.

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


Ah! There's nothing like washing down a full Christmas dinner with a spot of wine is there.

But even our boozy Christmases have a recommended expiry date to keep things nice and sweet.

The experts have advised: 'Red wine and full-bodied, especially oaked, white wines tend to oxidise more rapidly and are only drinkable for three to five days after opening, if kept in a cool, dark place.'

But for all the Cherry and Port fans, these type of fortified wines can be drunk up to four weeks after opening.


If you're a fan of a good cheese board around Christmas time, then experts have warned that we should watch out for the mould.

While mould can sometimes be cut off of hard cheeses, cheese lovers should stay away from it if it appears on soft cheeses.

'Soft cheeses, should be discarded if they are mouldy,' say the experts.

'And they need strict temperature control, so just serve what you think you’ll eat and keep the rest in the fridge.

'And don’t eat it after its “use by” date.'

Now that's something to look out for.