Peterborough Public Health Wishes You a Safe and Enjoyable Thanksgiving Dinner!
Written by Communications, October 5, 2018
Ensure Proper Food Handling to Prevent Illness
Peterborough Public Health would like you to enjoy a safe and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.
One way to ensure this is through safe food handling methods. In general, the most popular choice for a Thanksgiving dinner is turkey. “Poultry can contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella,” said Atul Jain, Manager of Environmental Health Programs. “If not handled with care or cooked inadequately these bacteria can cause illness, but by following safe food handling guidelines, you can help ensure that you, your family, and your guests remain healthy.”
When shopping for poultry, check the temperature of the refrigerator in the grocery store to ensure that the product you are buying has been stored at the proper temperature. All refrigeration units are required to have a working thermometer inside them. The proper refrigeration temperature is 4°C (40°F) or colder and freezers should be maintained below -18°C (0°F). Avoid buying damaged packages, frost covered packages, dry or discolored food, or packages that feel too warm.
Your home refrigerator should also be kept at these temperatures. Monitor the temperature of your fridge or freezer using an appliance thermometer, available at most hardware or restaurant supply stores.
When you get home from the store, place your turkey in a pan or container which will keep meat juices from dripping or spilling. Store your turkey on the lowest shelf of the fridge to prevent bacteria from contaminating other foods or surfaces.
The safest way to thaw poultry is in the refrigerator or under cold running water (allow one hour per pound). In the case of a large turkey, allow several days in the fridge to thaw – five hours per pound is a good rule of thumb.
Prepare raw poultry on non-porous surfaces which are easier to clean and sanitize. Thoroughly wash and sanitize any utensils, cutting boards or counter surfaces that raw meat touches. Sanitize by using a solution of 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of household bleach with 1 litre (4 cups) of water.
Always wash your hands thoroughly before handling any food and after handling raw meats.
It takes thorough cooking to kill harmful bacteria and prevent food poisoning. Cook the poultry to an internal temperature of 82°C (180°F). Use a probe thermometer and check the temperature of the thickest part, usually the thigh or breast away from the bone. A turkey will reach a safe internal cooking temperature faster if it is not stuffed.
Cook the stuffing in a separate dish, ensuring that the stuffing also reaches a temperature of 74°C (165°F). If the turkey is to be stuffed, it should be done just prior to cooking, not the night before.
Refrigerate leftovers within two hours. Carve the meat off of the bones before storing cooked poultry. Refrigerate or freeze meat and stuffing separately and in small quantities so that they will cool quickly.
Reheat meat and stuffing rapidly to at least 74°C (165°F) and serve. Do not reheat leftovers more than once.
Those interested in learning more about food safety can register for the Food Handlers course through Peterborough Public Health. Registration for the course, including a list of upcoming dates, is available at www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca under the Clinics and Classes section.
For further information, please contact:
705-743-1000, ext. 391