8 Steps to Having a Safe and Healthy Thanksgiving
By Airman First Class Doran Gilstrap, 17th Medical Group Public Health Office
/ Published November 10, 2009
GOODFELLOW AFB, Texas --
Thanksgiving brings memories of baking homemade pies and grandma's stuffing and overflowing tables of food. But did you know that improperly handled food causes more than 76 million food-borne illnesses every year? Pregnant women, young babies, older adults and those with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk.
Food-borne illnesses can be prevented with simple precautions. Here are some helpful tips to stay healthy over the holiday:
1. Nearly half of all food-borne illnesses can be prevented if you wash your hands frequently, especially after handling raw food and every time you start to prepare a different food.
2. Don't thaw food on the kitchen counter; doing so will increase the chance for bacteria to grow. Thaw foods slowly two days prior, under cold running water, or in the microwave when defrosting raw meat. They should be placed on the BOTTOM shelf of the refrigerator to prevent dripping on other foods.
3. Avoid cross-contamination by washing cutting boards and knives with hot water and soap after cutting raw meat and before using them to cut other foods.
4. Don't eat cookie dough or let children lick the rubber scraper. Dough made with raw eggs may contain salmonella, a leading cause of food poisoning. There is no risk from baked cookies or cakes because the salmonella is easily destroyed by heat.
5. If you drop it, dump it; food that lands on the floor should not be eaten.
6. Keep cold foods cold (below 40 degrees) and hot foods hot (above 140 degrees)
7. Eat the meal as soon as it is prepared. This will prevent any bacterial growth. Don't leave leftovers out on the counter or table after dinner. Cut the meat off the bone and put in shallow containers in the refrigerator.
8. Reheat all leftovers to 165 Fahrenheit using a meat thermometer. Gravy should be brought to a full boil. All leftovers should be eaten or discarded within 3 to 4 days. Freeze food if longer storage is required.
Eat safely and Happy Thanksgiving. If you have any questions or concerns, contact Public Health at 654-1491.