Don’t be a Turkey! Remember Safe Food Handling Practices on Thanksgiving

Americans wait all year for Thanksgiving Dinner, a feast that in many families features turkey and all the trimmings. But a pleasant experience can turn into a health nightmare if food poisoning results from improper handling of holiday dishes and their ingredients. Whether you are feeding three or 30, preparing everything from scratch or purchasing dishes readymade, doing all the cooking yourself or hosting a potluck, it’s important to remember these food safety tips (with thanks to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture):

Clean: Wash hands and food-contact surfaces often.

Always wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards and other preparation surfaces, utensils, sponges, and counter tops, so they should also be washed with soap and water.

Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate.

Keep bacteria from spreading from one food product to another, especially if you are cooking with raw meat, poultry and seafood. Keep these foods and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods. Use different cutting boards for raw meat or poultry and other foods that will not be cooked, such as vegetables. Be sure to keep raw turkey separate from side dishes.

Cook: Cook food to proper temperatures.

Foods are properly cooked when they are heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Use a food thermometer to determine temperature. In the case of turkey, every part and the center of the stuffing should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165


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