Try Not To Poison Yourself This Thanksgiving
There's a good chance you're either preparing a Thanksgiving meal or eating one today.
If you're in the kitchen whipping up food, there are four basic precautions you should take to reduce the chances of food poisoning and food-borne illnesses.
Dr. Brigette Gleason with the Center for Disease Control broke it down for us. "We like to tell people clean, separate, cook and chill," she says.
This refers to surfaces, cutting boards, knives and other kitchen tools. Scrub them with soap and hot water then dry them before you start cooking. Also, wash your hands before you start cooking. Wash your hands after you're done. And wash your hands -- again, with soap and warm water -- every time after you handle raw poultry. You could also wear latex gloves during food prep. But again, if you touch raw poultry, before you handle anything else take off the gloves and put on another pair.
To prevent cross contamination, keep raw meat, especially poultry, separate from vegetables, fruits and other foods. It's a good idea to use different cutting boards for produce and meat.
Cook your meat thoroughly. Yes, this sounds obvious but do you know the recommended internal temperature each type of meat? Neither do we. Turkey and chicken should hit 165° F. Pork should hit 145° F. The recommended internal cooking temperature for beef is also 145° F although if you like it rare, that may vary. Buy a meat thermometer and check this handy chart for more details. Another thing, cook your food as close to serving time as possible. Cooked food should be eaten within two hours to prevent bacteria from developing.
This doesn't mean you get to lay back and chill out. "As soon as you're done eating, leftovers should go in the refrigerator. Perishable foods should never be left out for more than two hours," Dr. Gleason says.
You don't have to wait for hot food to cool down before refrigerating it although if you don't want your containers to "sweat," let the temperature come down a little before putting on the lid.
Just because the meal is over, doesn't mean food safety is on hold.
What should you know about that leftover turkey? "In general, leftovers of cooked poultry are ok to eat within three to four days, but after that they should go," Dr. Gleason says.
If you're feeling sick and think you've come down with food poisoning, stay hydrated and give your stomach a break by slowly re-introducing bland foods into your diet.