Stay safe this holiday season: State health department offers food safety tips to prevent foodborne illnesses

KTUL - November 22, 2023 6:15 am

State health department offers food safety tips to prevent foodborne illnesses (AP Photo/Larry Crowe, File)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, approximately one in six Americans become ill with a foodborne illness.

Foodborne illness symptoms usually include nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. To prevent illness, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reminds everyone to practice food safety when preparing meals for the upcoming holidays.

Follow these food safety tips to prepare meals and keep gatherings free of foodborne illness:

  • Clean: Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before, during, and after handling food.Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
  • Separate: Germs that cause illness can spread from raw food to other foods. Use separate cutting boards and keep raw meats and their juices away from fruits and vegetables.
  • Cook: Always check the internal temperature of cooked meat, poultry, and egg dishes with a food thermometer to ensure the food is cooked to a safe temperature. For more information, please visit the Safe Minimum Cooking Chart.
  • Chill: Be safe with leftovers. Refrigerate leftover foods promptly. When foods are left out unrefrigerated, harmful germs multiply quickly.Discard any food left out for more than two hours.
  • Illness: Anyone who has been sick with diarrhea or vomiting should not prepare food for at least 24 hours after symptoms have stopped.

Tips for Preparing and Reheating Turkey:

  • Thaw: Allow enough time for a frozen turkey to defrost. Turkey, thawed incorrectly, may look safe to eat but will be undercooked, allowing illness-causing germs to survive inside. For more information about how to properly thaw a turkey based on weight and time in the refrigerator, in cold water, or using the microwave, please visit Safe Holiday Cooking.
  • Cook: Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the turkey is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. For stuffed turkeys, the internal temperature of the stuffing must reach 165 degrees before it is safe to eat; however, the safest way to cook stuffing is to cook in a separate casserole dish.
  • Store: After preparing the meal, refrigerate the remaining foods and leftover turkey within two hours. Eat leftover turkey, stuffing, and gravy within three to four days. Reheat leftover gravy to a rolling boil, and thoroughly reheat other leftovers to 165 degrees.

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