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Thanksgiving Food Safety

  • Published
  • By Public Health Flight
  • 82d AMDS
It is the time of the year again when friends and family get together for some turkey and other food festivities. It may be challenging to follow today's food safety but it's important to keep yourself and loved ones healthy. Below are easy helpful tips to prevent food contamination and health risks:

1. Clean your hands and surfaces often. Bacteria can survive around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards.
2. Separate raw meats from foods like vegetables and fruits to avoid cross-contamination.
3. Chill leftovers quickly, keep the temperature in your refrigerator under 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
4. Cook foods properly by using a food thermometer to ensure correct temperature.

Food preparation:
· Plan Ahead! Thaw frozen turkeys in the refrigerator for 24-hours per five pounds.
· When turkey is fully thawed, roast turkey with an oven temperature no less than 325 degrees Fahrenheit..
· Check the internal temperature at the meaty parts of the turkey every 15 minutes until it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. (Use a food thermometer to check temperature.)
· Let the turkey rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before carving the meat.
· Ensure surfaces and utensils are washed before contacting different food items, separating raw meat from ready-to-eat foods, to avoid cross-contamination.
· Bacteria rapidly multiply between "The Temperature Danger Zone" of 41-135 degrees Fahrenheit..
· Keep kitchen and surfaces clean at all times to prevent harboring pests and food contamination that could lead to foodborne illnesses.

Storing leftovers:
· The best ways to freeze leftovers is by packing side dishes like stuffing and mashed potatoes into plastic freezer bags. Meat can be sliced into little portions and wrap them using aluminum foil or freezer paper then seal it in airtight bags and store them in the refrigerator at 41 degrees Fahrenheit. or below for up to 72 hours (3 days).
· Remember to label and date all wrapped leftovers. Knowing what is waiting to be used in your refrigerator is the best way to minimize spoilage.
· Reheat only a serving at a time instead of the entire portion. Make sure to heat all parts of the food reaching a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. for a minimum of 15 seconds.
· "When in doubt, throw it out." Do not eat or taste food if you are unsure if it is safe.
Keep in mind that safe food handling of turkey and other holiday foods is essential in preventing foodborne illness.

For more information about food safety or sanitation, please contact the 82nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health Flight at 940- 676-3052 or visit