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Leftover Turkey to the Fridge, Stat

As we enjoy our most food-oriented holiday tomorrow, nutritionists and food safety experts recommend that particular care be taken to ensure that leftovers -- whether kept for later meals or dispatched home with guests -- don't become a catalyst for the pain, vomiting, and diarrhea that afflicts some 400,000 Americans annually on Thanksgiving.

The horrifying foodborne illnesses that struck Europe in the spring of 2011 served as a reminder that even the most "healthy" foods can sicken and potentially be lethal. In Europe, the culprit ultimately was identified as bean sprouts.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has offered a simple formula "2 hours -- 2 inches -- 4 days" for ensuring Thanksgiving food safety:

Two hours: You may be tempted to stay at the table chatting and digesting, but all leftovers need to be in the refrigerator within two hours.

Two inches: Don't overload food containers. Fill them only to a depth of two inches, which will allow rapid chilling of the contents.

Four days: Eat refrigerated leftovers within three to four days, or freeze if keeping longer.

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