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Public Health offers tips for keeping holidays free of foodborne illness

Every year, one in six Americans is sickened by contaminated food or beverages, often from food that’s not prepared safely

VANCOUVER — Give thanks this holiday season, not foodborne illness.

Every year, one in six Americans is sickened by contaminated food or beverages, often from food that’s not prepared safely. Proper food storage and preparation are important in order to prevent illness.

Don’t take any chances with the health of your family and friends this holiday season. Follow these tips as you prepare for holiday gatherings, and visit the Clark County Public Health Facebook page for more food safety tips throughout the month.

Thawing

A fresh turkey should be cooked within two days of purchase. But if your turkey is frozen, never thaw it on the counter. Here are three safe ways to thaw a turkey:

  • In the refrigerator: Allow 24 hours of thawing for each four to five pounds of turkey – about three days for a 12-pound turkey or five days for a 20-pound turkey.
  • In a bowl or sink filled with cold water: Keep the turkey in its original wrapping and allow 30 minutes per pound. Change water every 30 minutes.
  • In the microwave: Check the manual for directions. When thawed, cook immediately.

Preparation

Wash hands and surfaces often. After working with raw turkey, always wash your hands, utensils and work surfaces to prevent bacteria from contaminating other foods. Use only clean kitchen cloths and towels and wash them promptly after wiping up meat juices.

Stuffing

For optimal safety and uniform doneness, cook the stuffing outside the turkey in a casserole dish. If you place stuffing inside the turkey, do so just before roasting and use a food thermometer. Make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees. Bacteria can survive in stuffing that has not reached 165 degrees and cause foodborne illness.

Cooking

Prior to cooking, be sure the turkey is completely thawed. When cooking, use a food thermometer to check the temperature in the center of the stuffing, the wing joint and meaty portions of the breast and thigh. All pieces must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Leftovers

Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of cooking. Don’t leave food on the counter to cool down. Refrigerating foods quickly keeps most harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. Eat refrigerated leftovers within three or four days.

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