Holiday Meals: Food Safety Reminder!

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As you're basting your turkeys and stressing over pie crusts, don't forget to keep an eye on food safety! Here's a few key food safety issues to be aware of:Wash your hands frequently. With a big meal like Thanksgiving, there's so much multi-tasking going on that it's easy to forget this simple step. Not only will washing your hands prevent cross-contamination between, say, the raw turkey and your leafy green salad (shudder!), but you'll also avoid spreading germs to your guests.

Clean your counters and cutting boards frequently. This is something else that can get lost in the shuffle. Have a spritzer bottle of cleaning solution or some sanitizing wipes handy for quick wipe downs.

Thaw your turkey (or other meat) in the fridge. This is the best and safest way to thaw meat. The next best (in terms of safety anyway) is thawing it under cool running water. With a whole bird like a turkey, be sure to frequently rinse the inside cavity as well. Whatever you do, don't thaw your turkey on the counter!

Cook your turkey to an internal temperature of at least 165°. Take the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh, making sure you're not touching bone (which can be hotter) or have poked through to the inner cavity (which would register cooler).

If you're stuffing your turkey, make sure the stuffing also reaches 165°. Poke your thermometer right into the middle of the stuffing to check its temperature.

Refrigerate leftovers within 4 hours of cooking. We know, we know - the last thing you want to think about after eating a turkey dinner is cleaning up! But a large percent of food poisoning incidents during the holidays are caused by eating leftovers that have been left unrefrigerated too long. If you're strapped for time or not in the mood, stick the whole turkey carcass back in the fridge if you have to!

Remember that if you've packed up leftovers for friends and families, those should also be refrigerated until it's time to go. Also, label leftovers with the date and be sure to discard (or freeze) them after a week.

Any other food safety advice?

Related: How to Sanitize Your Instant-Read Thermometer

(Image: Flickr member tom.arthur licensed under Creative Commons)

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