The USDA have announced that it's officially no longer safe to eat Thanksgiving leftovers

The USDA have announced that it's officially no longer safe to eat Thanksgiving leftovers

For many people around the world (including myself), this morning represented the first time in quite a few days that we woke up, and didn't feel the crushing weight of stuffing holding us down. It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving was already a week ago, but all you need for proof is to look into your fridge, and see all the food you still have left over.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy all the leftovers from Thanksgiving, from delicious improvised pizzas and microwaved meals to a sandwich so delicious that when your boss steals it, you have a nervous breakdown. Well, if you haven't emulated Ross Geller in Friends yet, then you're going to have to wait till next year, because those leftovers are no longer good to eat, folks.

That's from the United States Department for Agriculture (USDA), who say that last Monday was officially the last day you could chow down on leftovers without leaving you feeling rather unwell. The main threat, they say, is the bacterium listeria, and this is backed up by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

The CDC describe Listeriosis as a "serious infection" which has the worst effects on people with weaker immune systems - that is, newborns, adults over the age of 65, and pregnant women. Each year, roughly 1,600 contract Listeriosis, and 260 of those people die. Here's what to look out for, courtesy of the CDC:

"Listeriosis can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on the person and the part of the body affected. Listeria can cause fever and diarrhea similar to other foodborne germs, but this type of Listeria infection is rarely diagnosed. Symptoms in people with invasive listeriosis, meaning the bacteria has spread beyond the gut, depend on whether the person is pregnant."

Thanksgiving leftovers Credit: Getty

If your refrigerator's not quite cold enough, then that can exacerbate the issue - inadvertently providing bacteria with the perfect home to wreak havoc on the food inside of your fridge. No, thank you. In order to combat this bacteria, you should ideally stick your meal in the cold within two hours of cooking it.

But, as Marjorie Davidson, a consumer educator at FDA, says: "A good rule to follow is, when in doubt, throw it out." But for those of you who are forward thinkers and have already chucked your excess turkey and potatoes in the freezer, then I've got some great news: once you defrost it, you can enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers for up to seven days before you should maybe think about throwing it out.

Frozen food in freezer Credit: Getty

Well, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, folks, but I'm sure that by now, you've had your memories with your Thanksgiving food, and are just looking forward to getting up in the morning without that inherent sense of heaviness following you with everything you do. Plus, for those of you who like a big meal, Christmas is just around the corner.