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Thanksgiving dinner cooks use safe preparation tips

By Randolph Public Health | Nov. 15, 2012

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — Using these four basic food safety measures can prevent foodborne illness.

· Clean
Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Wash food-contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils, countertops) with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before going on to the next item. Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water and use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.

· Separate
Don't give bacteria the opportunity to spread from one food to another. Consider using one cutting board only for foods that will be cooked (raw meat, poultry and seafood) and another one only for ready-to-eat foods (such as raw fruits and vegetables). Do not put cooked meat on an unwashed plate that has held raw meat.

· Cook
Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. Turkey is safe at 165ºF. If the turkey is stuffed, the stuffing temperature should be 165ºF. Make sure oysters in oyster dressing are thoroughly cooked.
Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating. Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. When making your own eggnog or other recipe calling for raw eggs, use pasteurized shell eggs, liquid or frozen pasteurized egg products, or powdered egg whites. Don't eat uncooked cookie dough, which may contain raw eggs.

· Chill
Harmful bacteria grow rapidly at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers and takeout foods within two hours. Set your refrigerator no higher than 40ºF and the freezer at 0ºF. Never defrost food at room temperature. Food can be defrosted safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water at least 70°F, or in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately. Allow time to properly thaw food. Don't taste food that looks or smells questionable. When in doubt, throw it out.
For more information, call Randolph Public Health at 652-1876.