Food Safety: 10 Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving Dinner From Poison Control! by Donna John
Thanksgiving is a joyful time for families to gather around the table to give thanks and celebrate. It’s also a likely time of year to send children and adults to the emergency room for food poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CPSC), there are nearly 76 million food poisoning cases yearly, with about 325,000 hospitalizations and approximately 5,000 deaths. CPCS offers the top 10 safety tips for Thanksgiving:
- Wash your hands often especially in between handling foods that are wet or dry.
- Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water and use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
- If you purchased a turkey fresh and not frozen, refrigerate it immediately. Do not rinse a turkey in water as that spreads salmonella. If you bought a frozen turkey, allow lots of time for it to thaw – 24 hours of thaw time per 5 pounds of turkey.
- It is safest to not stuff a turkey, but rather put herbs inside the cavity to season it.
- The biggest risk of food poisoning comes from under cooking the turkey. You can't tell it's done by how it looks! It must reach 165 degrees F.
- It may not be in mom’s recipe, but bring gravy to a full boil before serving.
- Be sure to wipe down counters, cutting boards and utensils in between recipes especially if you have raw meat or leafy greens on the cutting board, both of which can carry salmonella.
- Keep cold food like salads, gelatin molds and salad dressing refrigerated until just before serving. Once dinner is over, refrigerate leftovers. Food is not safe to eat if it has been sitting out for two hours or more. Toss it.
- While store-bought cookie dough and eggnog should be safe, be sure to purchase pasteurized eggs to use in homemade recipes.
- After eating, take the remaining meat off the bird and store in a shallow container in the refrigerator. Don’t put an entire carcass into the refrigerator – it won’t cool down quickly enough.
Call California Poison Control System at 1-800-222-1222 for more information or any questions about poisons.