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Thanksgiving Food Safety Tips

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) The Iowa Department of Public Health wants you to keep some food safety tips in mind this Thanksgiving. Make sure you continually wash hands when handling and preparing raw poultry and food. Also clean surfaces and utensils that come in contact with raw turkey and its juices.
 
Turkey, side dishes and stuffing should be heated until they reach a minimum temperature of 140 degrees F and consumed or refrigerated within two hours of preparation. Optimal temperatures include 180 degrees for a whole turkey (thickest portion of the thigh), 170 degrees for a turkey breast (thickest portion of the breast), and 165 degrees for stuffing (center).
 
Keep food out of the "danger zone," which is between 40 and 140 degrees F. Temperatures within the danger zone are optimal for the growth of harmful bacteria and may lead to a foodborne illness. To ensure that the appropriate temperature is maintained, it is best to use a food thermometer to check and confirm internal temperatures.
 
When storing foods, all stuffing should be removed from the turkey cavity and placed in a separate container. Turkey meat should be removed from the cavity and sliced or cut into smaller pieces. However, turkey legs and wings may be kept whole for storage. Leftovers may be refrigerated or frozen in air tight, shallow containers for consumption at a later time. Refrigerated items should be kept at a temperature of 40 degrees F or below to minimize potential spoilage and consumed within three to four days of refrigeration. If applicable, frozen turkey, cooked poultry dishes, stuffing and gravy should be reheated and consumed within two to six months of freezing. This time interval refers to the storage times that the product maintains food quality; however, frozen items may remain safe indefinitely.
 
Cooked turkey meat may either be reheated or eaten cold. Reheated foods should be heated in an oven or microwave to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Again, internal temperatures may be confirmed through the use of a food thermometer. Gravy must be consumed within 1-2 days and reheated to reach a rolling boil.

For more information, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/Cade/Foodborne.aspx.
 
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