Thanksgiving is a huge culinary undertaking which takes patience, skill, planning – and adherence to some basic food safety practices.

Chefs should remember that a safe meal is just as important as a delicious one and when preparing Thanksgiving for family and friends this year, stick to the food safety basics: clean, separate, cook and chill. Read More.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food borne illness affects 48 million Americans, causes 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths annually.  Everyone is at risk, but those more likely to become very sick from a food borne illness are the elderly, children, individuals with a weakened immune system, and pregnant women. Read More.

To stay avoid food related illnesses and stay safe this season, the USDA recommends the following //www.foodsafety.gov/keep/events/thanksgiving/ tips:

  • When cooking a turkey:
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness.
  • Wash veggies and fruits, but do not wash the turkey. This only spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. The only way to kill bacteria that causes food borne illness is to fully cook the turkey.
  • Keep raw turkey separated from all other foods at all times.
  • Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils when handling raw turkey to avoid cross-contamination. Wash items that have touched raw meat with warm soap and water, or place them in a dishwasher.
  • Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, as measured by a food thermometer. Check the turkey’s temperature by inserting the thermometer in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.

When consuming leftover Thanksgiving food:

  • Refrigerate leftovers within two hours to prevent bacteria from growing on the food.
  • Store leftovers in shallow pans or containers to decrease cooling time. This prevents the food from spending too much time at unsafe temperatures (between 40 °F to 140 °F).
  • Do not store stuffing inside a leftover turkey. Remove the stuffing from the turkey, and refrigerate the stuffing and the meat separately.
  • Avoid consuming leftovers that have been left in the refrigerator for longer than 3 or 4 days (next Tuesday to be exact). Use the freezer to store leftovers for longer periods of time.
  • Keep leftovers in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs if the food is traveling home with a guest who lives more than two hours away.

For more information visit, //www.foodsafety.gov/keep/index.html

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