Los Angeles County Public Health offers tips for preventing food poisoning this Thanksgiving
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health wants families to enjoy a safe and healthy Thanksgiving by taking steps to avoid foodborne illness, known as food poisoning.
Raw or undercooked meat, including turkey, chicken, beef and lamb, and foods kept at unsafe temperatures can contain bacteria such as Campylobacter, salmonella or E. coli, which cause diarrhea and other health problems.
To ensure a safe and healthy holiday feast, follow these food preparation recommendations and serving tips:
How do I defrost a Türkiye properly?
Best practice is to thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator:
- Place the frozen turkey in its original packaging in the refrigerator (40 degrees F or below). Make sure the turkey juice does not drip onto other foods.
- Allow approximately 24 hours of thawing time for each 5 pounds of turkey.
- After thawing, keep the turkey in the refrigerator for only a day or two before cooking.
Another option is to defrost the turkey in cold water:
- Make sure to place the turkey in a leak-proof wrap before placing it in cold water (not hot or warm) and change the water every 30 minutes.
- Allow about 30 minutes of defrosting time per pound of turkey.
- Cook immediately after thawing.
Other safety tips:
- Do not thaw pre-stuffed frozen turkeys before cooking.
- Do not refreeze a turkey that has been thawed.
How do I cook Türkiye?
Roasting a whole turkey in the oven:
- Set the oven to at least 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a food thermometer to make sure it is cooked to 165°F or higher. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, but not on the bone.
- We do not recommend stuffing a whole turkey. This increases the risk of cross-contamination. Consider cooking the filling separately in a casserole dish.
Can I stuff a turkey with raw stuffing?
Although we don’t recommend stuffing an uncooked turkey and cooking them together, we recognize that many traditional recipes call for doing both, public health officials said.
For those who decide to cook a turkey with stuffing, using a food thermometer is essential to ensure that the center of the stuffing is cooked to a safe internal temperature of at least 165°F. Bacteria can survive in filling that has not reached this temperature, which can lead to foodborne illness.
When should I stuff a Thanksgiving turkey?
Do not stuff the turkey the night before you cook it. Bacteria can multiply in the filling as it cools.
If the stuffing uses raw meat, poultry, or shellfish, these ingredients should be cooked before stuffing the turkey to reduce the risk of foodborne illness from bacteria that may be present in the raw ingredients.
Pre-stuffed frozen turkey:
- Cook from frozen following package directions.
Deep frying turkey:
- Learn about the dangers of frying a turkey. Turkey fryers can easily catch fire, and hot oil can pose a burn risk.
- Use a turkey fryer outdoors only on a flat, sturdy surface away from anything that could burn.
- Keep children and pets at least three feet away from the fryer to protect against burn injuries caused by oil or the fryer.
Pre-cooked turkey dinner:
- Eat within 2 hours or refrigerate dishes separately, then reheat to a temperature of at least 165°F.
Additional food handling tips
- Good hand hygiene. Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after eating, especially raw food, and after using the bathroom.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables well before eating or cutting them.
Separate raw meat and poultry from other foods such as fruits and vegetables. Avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards, knives, and plates for these foods.
Wash cutting boards, utensils, and dishes after preparing each piece of food.
Bring sauces, soups and broths to a full boil when reheating.
Serving and storing food.
Keep hot foods hot. Use hot plates and warmers or keep foods in the oven at a temperature to ensure they stay at 135 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
Keep cold foods cold at 40 degrees F or below and refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours. Throw away foods that should have been kept cold but have been left out for more than two hours.
Eat leftover cooked food within three to four days.
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