Don’t let a favorite food holiday end in illness. Here’s how to prepare and store your meal.
You spend hours prepping the perfect Thanksgiving meal for your family. But no matter how delicious the turkey, sweet potato casserole and pies might taste, if they aren’t prepared and stored properly, they may end up making your family sick. These Thanksgiving tips and precautions can help keep your family safe from foodborne illness:
1. Turkey should be thawed properly in the refrigerator, 24 hours for every 5 pounds. Don’t thaw the turkey on the counter or outdoors, and avoid placing it where juices could drip on other foods.
2. It is safer to cook stuffing in its own dish outside the turkey. If you are going to use it to stuff the turkey, make sure it reaches a temperature of at least 165 degrees.
3. In general, raw meats should be kept separated from foods that won’t be cooked, such as raw fruits and vegetables. All fruits and vegetables should be washed with cool water.
4. Use a dedicated cutting board for meats to avoid cross-contamination, and be sure to wash utensils and cutting boards well.
5. Wash hands before and after handling food to avoid cross-contamination. Make sure any kitchen helpers wash their hands, too.
6. Before serving, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
7. Store leftovers within two hours. Stay away from the temperature danger zone: Bacteria grow quickly in food that’s between 40 and 140 degrees.
8. Avoid the temperature danger zone when traveling, too. Don’t overload coolers, and make sure ice surrounds the food.
9. When you arrive at your destination, be sure to reheat food to 165 degrees before serving. That also goes for leftovers at home.
10. Eat leftovers within three to four days, and reheat them to at least 165 degrees. When in doubt, throw it out. The sniff test isn’t reliable because spoiled food doesn’t always smell bad.
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