10 tips for avoiding food borne illness
Last year after the Thanksgiving meal, we sat around the table for several hours. The conversation was flowing, and it was too good to interrupt. But we let the leftovers linger too long before stashing them in the refrigerator, and while we weren’t paying attention, bacteria show up uninvited to the party. Upshot: We spent several days doing the post-Thanksgiving turkey trot.
Don’t let this be your reality this year. It doesn’t matter how lovingly you cooked the turkey, mac and cheese, and sweet potato pies if you don’t prepare and store them properly. Don’t let a food faux pas make you sick this holiday season. Follow these tips and precautions to keep your family safe from food borne illness:
Thaw your turkey in the refrigerator, 24 hours for every 5 pounds. Don’t thaw the bird on the counter or outdoors, and avoid placing it where raw juices could drip on other foods.
Cook stuffing in its own dish outside the turkey. If you are going to use it to stuff the turkey, make sure it is heated to at least 165 degrees.
Keep raw meats separate from foods that won’t be cooked, such as raw fruits and vegetables. Wash fruits and vegetables with cool water.
Use a dedicated cutting board for meats to avoid cross-contamination, and be sure to wash utensils and cutting boards well with hot, soapy water.
Wash your hands before and after handling food. Make sure your kitchen helpers wash their hands, too.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold until it’s time to serve them.
Store leftovers within two hours. Keep in mind that bacteria grow quickly in food that’s between 40 and 140 degrees.
Stay away from the temperature danger zone while traveling. Don’t overload coolers, and make sure ice is around the food.
Reheat food to 165 degrees before serving. That goes for leftovers at home, too.
Eat leftovers within three to four days. Remember this rhyme: When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t rely on the sniff test; spoiled food doesn’t always smell bad.