Avoid food poisoning while getting ready to serve Thanksgiving dinner

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Lorain County Public Health (LCPH) reminds everyone to plan ahead to keep loved ones safe and healthy – Thaw turkey and other meats in the fridge, and use a meat thermometer to make sure the turkey is fully cooked.

“Raw meats are more likely to carry germs tha
t make people sick, so handling meat properly is one of the best ways to prevent food poisoning,” explains Dave Covell, MPH, LCPH Health Commissioner. “We recommend that holiday cooks thaw the turkey in the fridge, and that they use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.”

A thawing turkey must defrost at a safe temperature. When the turkey is left out for more than two hours, its temperature becomes unsafe. Bacteria can grow quickly in the “danger zone” between 40°F and 135°F. Check the label for guidance - depending on the size of the turkey, it can take several days to thaw in the fridge! Also, always use a meat thermometer to check that the turkey is fully cooked to 165°F when stuck in the thickest part of the thigh. The pop-up thermometer may not check the coldest part of the meat.

Follow these other food safety tips to keep your family safe and healthy:

  • Separate raw meat and ready-to-eat foods, and use separate cutting boards for them.
  • Wash cooking equipment with hot, soapy water after working with raw meat.
  • Wash hands often, for 20 seconds with soap and water - especially after touching raw meat.
  • Keep hot foods hot, at 135°F or warmer. Use slow cookers, chafing dishes, and warming trays to keep food hot on the holiday table.
  • Keep cold foods cold, at 40°F or lower. Place serving dishes in bowls of ice so they stay chilled.
  • Throw away perishable foods that have been out at room temperature for two hours or more.