November 19, 2008
Summer is well behind us with winter and the Christmas holiday season quickly approaching.
Before they get here, we have one holiday where we can sit down and be thankful.
Thanksgiving is a day where there is no such thing as too much to eat. However, if proper sanitation and hygiene are not practiced while preparing the Thanksgiving meal, you could potentially be facing a food-borne illness.
For millions of people, the main dish on Thanksgiving Day is turkey. What some of you may not know is that if not cooked properly, turkey can transmit diseases such as salmonella. The most important step you should remember while preparing your meal is hand washing.
Hand washing is the number one way to prevent the spread of disease and bacteria. You should wash your hands before beginning preparation of your meal, after handling raw meats and in between working with any other raw food and ready-to-eat food such as salads and desserts.
Although hand washing is a great way to prevent the spread of disease, you also need to worry about cross-contamination. If you are planning on using the same utensils and cutting boards to prepare your meats and other items such as vegetables and other side dishes, you must first make sure they are washed and sanitized so bacteria from your raw food does not contaminate any of your ready-to-eat food.
Another important step while preparing your meal is ensuring your turkey is cooked properly. Cooking your turkey thoroughly will kill any bacteria remaining after washing it. Your oven should be set at a minimum of 325 degrees F. The turkey is done when the internal temperature is 165 degree F or higher. You cannot always depend on the little temperature gauge to pop up when the turkey is done, so you will want to use a meat thermometer to check the temperature in the thickest part of the turkey, such as the middle of a thigh or breast.
When you're finished with your meal, you should refrigerate your leftovers as quickly as possible but at least within two hours. Your leftovers should be kept in the refrigerator at 40 degrees F or cooler.
If you remember to use these tips this Thanksgiving while preparing your meal, you and your family should have no problem enjoying the entire day.