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FOOD SAFETY TIPS FOR THANKSGIVING

Wes Clark, Health Environmentalist of the Franklin County Health Department says that in order to avoid illness during the Holiday Season, or anytime you prepare poultry (Turkey), please adhere to the following instructions for proper thawing, preparing, and storing of poultry (Turkey) and Leftovers.

TURKEY SHOULD BE THAWED:

  • In a refrigerator with the temperature at 41 degrees F or less (allow 3-4 days).
  • Under cool running water at a temperature of 75 degrees F or less
  • In a microwave oven when the conventional cooking process will follow immediately after thawing; or if the entire thawing-cooking process will be carried out uninterrupted in the microwave oven.  Foods cooked in a microwave oven should be rotated or stirred midway during the cooking process, covered to retain moisture, then heated to at least 165 degrees F and allowed to stand covered after cooking for approximately two minutes. This will help ensure even heat distribution.
  • In the continuous thawing-cooking process in the conventional matter. (If Turkey is bought pre-stuffed, do not defrost before cooking).

TURKEYS AND STUFFING SHOULD BE PREPARED:

  • With clean hands and with utensils that have been cleaned and sanitized.  Utensils and cutting boards should be washed and sanitized again after preparing the turkey (as Salmonella bacteria may be present on the uncooked surface and may be easily transferred)
  • ·                 By cooking at a temperature of 325 degrees F, until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 degrees F, with no interruptions in the cooking process.  A temperature of 140 degrees should be maintained until the turkey is served.  Then, the meat should be immediately sliced and stored in shallow platters in the refrigerator.  Shallow containers allow the meat to cool more quickly.  This helps prevent any undercooked juices, stuffing, or meat in the thickest part of the turkey that can result in bacterial growth with an extended cool down time; for example, overnight or over four hours.  Platters must not be stacked on each other since proper air circulation is necessary to facilitate cooling.  Turkey should be rapidly cooked and rapidly cooled. 

1.     A metal stemmed, dial type thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh or breast of the turkey is recommended for measuring product temperature.

2.     In a manner in which the two food products are cooked separately from each other for best results; however, if prepared (cooked) together, the turkey should not be stuffed until immediately before cooking.

3.     Then refrigerated at a temperature of 41 degrees F, or less (after cooking) by separating the turkey and stuffing then storing individually.

LEFTOVERS:

  • Should be refrigerated at a temperature of 41 degrees F or less.  Turkey and stuffing should be wrapped separately; shallow dishes or platters should be used for storing.
  • Prepared into sandwiches or similar cold food using cleaned and sanitized cutting boards and equipment, which also should be cleaned and sanitized immediately after use.
  • To be reheated or served as a hot dish, rapidly heat to an internal temperature of the turkey of 165 degrees F.  The turkey should be heated thoroughly.

If adequate precautions are not followed, food poisoning may result.  The common type transmitted by poultry is Salmonellosis.  The following symptoms may occur within 6 to 72 hours:  Abdominal pain, diarrhea, chills, fever, nausea, vomiting, and malaise.  Camplyobacter Bacterium is also a concern for poultry.  Camplyobacteriosis has similar symptoms of Salmonellosis.  This bacterium may cause illness in 2 to 7 days, and is becoming increasingly harder to treat with antibiotics.  Should any of these symptoms appear, please consult your physician.  Food borne illness cases should be reported to your local health department.

Following thorough washing and rinsing, adequate sanitation may be accomplished by immersing the equipment or utensils for 30 seconds in clean, hot water of a temperature of 170 degrees F; or immersion for at least 60 seconds in a clean solution containing at least 50 parts per million of available chlorine (one teaspoon of 5.25% household bleach per gallon of water at 75 degrees F will normally suffice).  For cutting boards or equipment that is too large to immerse for sanitation, swabbing/wiping the surface with sanitizer (50 to 100ppm), should be practiced.

Consumers may contact the Franklin County Health Department, for further information.  (Telephone Number 564-7382)

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