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After eating that delicious Thanksgiving meal, don’t be tempted to let it sit while you relax and visit. Leftovers can turn deadly unless you take the time to put everything away in the refrigerator right after you eat, said Family and Community Health Agent London Jones of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Burnet County.

“You want to put it up within two hours,” Jones said. “Anything kept out longer than two hours, we recommend throwing it away.”

Jones recommends two hours in the temperature zone, which is 40 degrees to 140 degrees.

“Anything longer than two hours, that’s when bacteria grows the fastest,” she continued.

Her own family usually talks for a few minutes after the meal before someone heads to the kitchen for food containers, mostly so guests can take home leftovers but also to ensure safe storage.

“Separate it when you’re cleaning it up,” she said. “Set aside a timer and get it done. Then, hang out with family.”

Above all, sanitize as much as possible, Jones said.

“You never know where people are coming from,” she said. “Everyone should wash their hands before they eat.”