HOSKINS – Food is a staple in the Thanksgiving holiday. Handling food safely is more important than ever this year. One in six Americans will become sick from food-borne illness this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Here are some tips to prevent such an incident.
Everyone helping in the kitchen should use warm water and soap to wash their hands for 20 seconds. Turkey should be kept in its original wrapping and refrigerated until its cooked. Cold running water or refrigeration is the safest way to defrost a turkey. For every four to five pounds of turkey, allow for one day to defrost in the refrigerator. Change the water every 30 minutes in a cold-water bath. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey. A safe minimum is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to store turkey and stuffing separately. Leftover and refrigerated turkey should be used in three to four days, while leftover stuffing and gravy should be consumed within one to two days.
Do not defrost a turkey at room temperature. Bacteria can multiply to unsafe numbers with this method. Uncooked and thawed turkey should not be kept out of the refrigerator longer than two hours. Do not rinse the turkey before cooking to avoid contamination of other areas. The oven should be set no lower than 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not prepare food while feeling ill. Leftovers should be put away within two hours. Do not re-freeze a completely thawed and uncooked turkey. Lastly, stuffing turkeys makes it difficult for the internal temperature to reach 165 degrees. If the turkey must be stuffed, stuff it lightly before cooking, but leave room in the middle.
The Nebraska Regional Poison Center is a free community service to the public. Call 1-800-222-1222 to speak with a Registered Nurse or Pharmacist.