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FOR RELEASE: November 10, 2003
Health Department Offers Advice For Preparing A Safe Thanksgiving Meal
As families gather for Thanksgiving, it is especially important not to forget food safety basics when preparing the holiday meal. Whether the Thanksgiving meal centers on a turkey, ham, roast, or some other dish, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) wants Oklahomans to make sure that foodborne illness is not an invited guest.
By following four basic food safety practices, everyone can reduce the risk of foodborne illness. First, keep hands and all food preparation surfaces clean. Second, don't cross-contaminate foodborne bacteria from one food to another. Third, cook to proper temperatures. And last of all, remember to refrigerate perishable foods quickly after mealtime is finished.
The OSDH offers the following Thanksgiving food safety tips:
Storing the turkey...Avoid cross-contamination
To stuff or not to stuff
If you choose to stuff your turkey, stuff loosely - about 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. The stuffing should be moist, not dry, since heat destroys bacteria more rapidly in a moist environment. Place stuffed turkey in oven immediately. When done, remember to check the stuffing with a meat thermometer to make sure it has reached a temperature of at least 165° F.
Safe handling of leftovers
If you have questions about foodborne illnesses or food safety, call your local county health department or visit the Communicable Disease Division Web site at www.health.state.ok.us/program/cdd/index.html .
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