USDA Offers Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

HYANNIS – Food safety experts offered tips for a safe and healthy Thanksgiving meal ahead of the holiday.

USDA Public Affairs Specialist Kenneth King outlined a variety of practices to avoid foodborne illness.

King said people should always wash their hands prior to cooking and eating. Surfaces in the cooking area should also be sanitized.  

He advised people to use separate cutting boards when preparing food; one board for raw meat and poultry and another for fruits and vegetables. This separation helps avoid cross contamination.

King said the USDA recommends using plastic cutting boards because they are easier to clean and bacteria can seep into wooden cutting boards over time.

The food safety expert reminded people to make sure they use a meat thermometer when checking to see if turkey has finished cooking.

King said the meat should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees in three different locations due to the size of the bird.

“Insert the thermometer into the breast of the turkey, and then also into the innermost part of the wing and the innermost part of the thigh,” he said.

After the meal has been served, King said that food should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours. Bacteria can start to grow after that amount of time.

King added that Thanksgiving leftovers should be discarded after four days.

For storing leftover turkey, King said people should not place an entire cooked turkey into their refrigerator.

“It needs to be cut up into small pieces and placed into shallow containers, that way it can cool evenly,” he said.  

For additional questions, the USDA’s meat and poultry hotline will be open on Thanksgiving Day from 8am to 2pm at 1-888-674-6854.

Click here for information on food recalls and more Thanksgiving Day cooking safety tips.

By Brian Engles, NewsCenter

About Brian Engles

Brian Engles is a longtime local of the Cape. He studied Film & TV at Boston University and in addition to his role at Cape Cod Broadcasting Media, he also works as a music instructor and records original songs.
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