Safe food preparation strategies to save your holidays

Think of the holiday season and answer this question: The holidays are the only time of year I do ... what?

Maybe it’s the only time of year you set up a Christmas tree, hang mistletoe, travel to a certain destination or stay up all night to go Black Friday shopping. For many, the holidays are also the only time of year that you prepare the traditional holiday meal.

And that can lead to trouble.

Each year in the U.S., one in six people will experience food poisoning. There are 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 patient deaths that can be traced back to foodborne pathogens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Food poisoning can affect everyone but it can cause especially serious illness in young children, the elderly, pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems.

Improper food preparation is one of the most common causes of food poisoning, and the risk increases during the holidays when people try to make lavish meals they would otherwise not prepare. To help keep you and your family safe this season, follow the guidelines below and your holiday meal will be safe, delicious and truly one-of-a-kind.


Preparing the perfect holiday turkey this season

• Plan for one pound of meat per person. If a frozen turkey works best for you, allow the bird to thaw for several days in the refrigerator. Generally, you will need to plan one day for every four pounds of turkey to ensure your bird completely thaws. While your turkey is thawing, keep it on the bottom shelf in a rimmed baking pan to prevent unwanted juices from spreading.

• Do not rinse your raw turkey. Rinsing the turkey is not a safety step and can increase the risk of spreading bacteria to the sink and other surfaces.

• For optimum safety, cook stuffing in a casserole. Because stuffing is an excellent medium for bacterial growth, it’s important to handle it safely and cook it to a safe minimum internal temperature (at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit) as measured with a food thermometer.

• For safety, cook your turkey to at least 165  degrees Fahrenheit

and always use a food thermometer to ensure your turkey reaches this safe internal temperature. You can find a complete turkey roasting chart at

• When checking to see if your turkey is done, insert the food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.

• Put extra turkey, stuffing and other leftovers in the fridge within two hours. Consume, freeze or discard leftovers within three to four days.


The annual turkey dinner is a seasonal staple. A little extra preparation can make the meal as satisfying and enjoyable as the rest of the holidays.


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