The Westchester County Health Department is providing advice to prepare a healthy, safe holiday meal.
“Remember to thoroughly wash your hands between the preparation of uncooked poultry and ready to serve foods,” said Peter DeLucia, assistant commissioner of Public Health Protection. “Preparing a safe and healthy Thanksgiving meal is not an easy task for even the most seasoned of chefs, so residents should follow these tips to ensure a safe and happy holiday meal.”
Separate and Prepare – Bacteria on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces as you prepare the turkey. Use different cutting boards for raw meat, poultry, seafood and veggies. Keep the raw turkey away from vegetables and side dishes that won’t be cooked. Wash hands, surfaces and utensils often to avoid spreading bacteria when preparing food.
Stuff – To avoid under-cooked stuffing that can cause a food borne illness, bake stuffing separately in a shallow pan, where it can quickly reach 165 degrees. Many food borne outbreaks have been caused by stuffed, roasted turkey.
Cook – Turkeys should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees. It’s essential to have a 0 to 220 degree probe thermometer at home to accurately measure food temperature. To be safe, take the turkey’s temperature by inserting the probe thermometer deep into the meat.
Properly Cool Leftovers – Improper cooling practices are one of the most frequent causes of food borne illness. Leftover turkey, stuffing, etc., needs to be refrigerated within two hours. If you prepare foods in advance such as soups and stocks, make sure to cool them in the refrigerator, uncovered in shallow pans.
Reheat – Leftovers, including turkey meat, stuffing and stock should be reheated to at least 165 degrees before serving.
For more food preparation safety tips, visit www.westchestergov.com/health.