Safety Tips to Avoid Food Poisoning This Thanksgiving

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“Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills.” That doesn’t sound like a very fun Thanksgiving at all. To help avoid all that, you need to avoid these big Thanksgiving dinner “no-no’s” from Meredith Carothers and the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. The first big no-no is thawing your turkey at room temperature.

“The longer that a product, especially raw turkey, is out at room temperature, the more opportunity bacteria have to grow and those then could create heat resistant toxins that won’t be killed by the cooking process. Then, if you eat those, they could essentially make you sick. So, a big no-no is thawing at room temperature.”

So, if you did thaw the bird at room temperature instead of starting the process days ago in the fridge, you might just want to pitch it.

The next big no-no is, “Not sanitizing and cleaning your surfaces after that raw turkey might have been there.”

There could be bacteria on the turkey and in the juices. If they touched anything else- the countertop, sink, utensils, hands, anything- that bacterium could end up all over the kitchen and eventually in salads or other side dishes.

Another big no-no according to Carothers is not using a food thermometer and only relying on that pop-up timer that is in some turkeys. You also can’t just go by how the turkey looks. That pop-up timer might let you know that the turkey is up to the safe bacteria-killing temperature of 165 degrees in that particular spot, but perhaps not the whole turkey.

“We really recommend checking the temperature in the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing, and the innermost part of the thigh,” says Carothers.

And one of the best parts of the Thanksgiving dinner is that there are typically plenty of leftovers to have throughout the weekend, but not if you leave them out for too long.

“2 hours is that maximum timeframe that they should be allowed to stay out.”

If you have questions about preparing your bird, the folks at USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline are on duty from 8am-2pm on Thanksgiving Day. You can go to ask.usda.gov or call 888-MPHOTLINE.

Source: USDA News Service