Thanksgiving food safety is key ingredient for holiday

November 20, 2011

By Staff

NEW — 1 p.m. Nov. 20, 2011

Before the time comes to carve the turkey and dish up the cranberry sauce, local public health officials reminded Thanksgiving revelers to follow steps to ensure food safety.

The majority of food borne illness stems from inadequate handwashing, cross contamination, and improper cooking, heating and cooling. The proper handling, preparation, cooking and storing of food minimizes growth of E. coli, salmonella, and other causes of foodborne illness.

“Food safety for the holidays goes beyond the proper preparation and cooking of turkey,” Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County, said in a statement. “Whether you’re preparing turkey with all the trimmings or other traditional favorites, be sure to handle all food with care to minimize the risk of foodborne illness.”

The county public health agency offers tips for a happy — and healthy — Thanksgiving feast.

  • Wash hands for about 20 seconds, using warm water and soap, to get rid of the germs capable of getting into food and making people sick.
  • Wash hands after going to the bathroom; after touching raw meat, fish or poultry; and after taking out the garbage, sneezing, or coughing.
  • Avoid cross contamination — as germs from raw foods get onto foods not be cooked or reheated to 165 degrees before eating.
  • Put raw poultry, meat and fish in the meat drawer of the refrigerator, or put them on the bottom shelf in the refrigerator so the juices do not drip onto uncooked foods.
  • Use a hard cutting surface with no splits or holes in it.
  • Wash, rinse and sanitize the cutting surface and utensils after cutting raw poultry, meat, and fish, as well as melons. Make a sanitizer using 1 teaspoon of household bleach for each gallon of cool water.
  • In order to kill all bacteria, cook turkey, dressing containing turkey parts, other poultry and wild game to at least 165 degrees; ground beef and ground pork to 155 degrees; and fish, shellfish, lamb, other pork, other beef and eggs to 145 degrees. (Most people prefer turkey cooked to a higher temperature.)
  • Cold foods should be kept cold — lower than 41 degrees — and hot foods should be held hot — above 140 degrees.
  • Cool food properly by placing it in uncovered shallow pans in the refrigerator.
  • If you are taking prepared food to share with others, be certain to keep it hot — above 140 degrees — or cold — 41 degrees or below — during the trip and until it is served.
  • If food has been sitting at room temperature for not more than two hours, refrigerate or reheat it. If food has been sitting out for longer than two hours, throw it out.
  • Take care with leftovers; be sure the food has been cooled properly, then kept cold on the journey home.
  • Wash and scrub fruits and vegetables under cold running water.
  • Scrub the exterior of melons before cutting them, and then keep them cold at 41 degrees or below.
  • Keep starchy foods, like cooked beans, rice, potatoes and pasta at 140 degrees or above, or cold at 41 degrees or below. Be sure to refrigerate within two hours after the meal.
  • Keep tofu and other plant protein foods hot at 140 degrees or above or cold at 41 degrees or below.
  • Sprouts must be kept at 41 degrees or below until used.

Meal programs and food banks see a large amount of food donated around the holidays.

Public Health – Seattle & King County encourages people to donate food. The biggest need is for high-quality canned protein foods, fruits and vegetables.

If people plan to donate fresh produce or a perishable food requiring continues refrigeration at 41 degrees or less, call the donor agency before delivering to make sure the agency can accept the item. Call the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank at 392-4123.

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One Response to “Thanksgiving food safety is key ingredient for holiday”

  1. Gobble Gobble: Tips For Turkey Safety | Earth Eats - Indiana Public Media on November 21st, 2011 5:02 am

    […] Thanksgiving food safety is key ingredient for holiday (Issaquah Press) […]

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