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Stores like Kroger and Dollar Tree will be open, but Publix and Costco are closing their doors for Thanksgiving.

USA TODAY

Safety has taken center stage this Thanksgiving as public health experts are urging Americans to roll back their in-person plans to keep their family safe from the spread of COVID-19. But even at small gatherings, a hidden food safety concern remains: Leftovers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that outbreaks of a bacteria that causes food poisoning occur most often in November and December. Many of those outbreaks have been linked to common holiday foods such as turkey and roast beef.

“Food-borne illnesses are no joke,” Lisa Yakas, a senior project manager at NSF International, told USA TODAY last year. The organization develops health standards and certifications for food, water and consumer products.

Just like the ongoing pandemic, food poisoning is most risky for vulnerable people,