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Safe food handling tips for Thanksgiving prep

Components of the Thanksgiving meal wait to be prepped
Components of the Thanksgiving meal wait to be prepped(wsaw)
Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 6:22 AM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The Thanksgiving holiday is one that is closely tied to the preparation and consumption of food, and for that reason, carries added risks of food poisoning if proper food handling procedures are not followed.

One of the biggest causes of food poisoning is cross contamination, especially when it comes to raw turkey.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommends using separate cutting boards for the turkey,  vegetables and other food items.  If a multitude of prep surfaces aren’t available, the next best thing is to wash all cutting boards, utensils and hands frequently.

Rinsing the turkey, as so many are used to doing, isn’t recommended however.

“We don’t want people rinsing it.  That’s a major recommendation because rinsing can really contaminate your sink and even if you do a thorough bleach cleaning of the sink after you rinse your turkey, studies have shown that there’s still a lot of residual bacteria on there,” said Communicable Diseases Epidemiology Section Manager for the DHS Jordan Mason.

After the meal it can be tempting to let the food sit out while other holiday activities or food coma kicks in.  That can be just as dangerous though as foods, whether hot or cold, get outside their recommended serving temperatures.

“They get into that what we call the danger zone where bacteria like to multiply, and then any bacteria that may have been on there, if it didn’t get quite up to temp, or if there was just a lot on there for some reason and the cooking didn’t kill everything, once you get into that danger zone it starts to multiply and can get up to levels that could make you sick,” Mason said.

The DHS recommends not leaving food out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.  For larger items it can also be helpful to cut them into smaller pieces for storage to help the cool faster.

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