Don’t start cooking without first reading these 9 Thanksgiving food safety tips

ORLANDO, Fla. — Millions of families will gather around the dinner table to give thanks on Thursday.

Here are nine Thanksgiving food safety tips, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


1. Keep foods separated

Keep meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods at the grocery store and in the refrigerator.

2. Thaw turkey safely

Thaw turkey in the refrigerator, in a sink of cold water (change the water every 30 minutes), or in the microwave. Avoid thawing foods on the counter. A turkey must thaw at a safe temperature to prevent harmful germs from growing rapidly.

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3. Handle turkey correctly to prevent the spread of germs

Raw turkey and its juice can contaminate anything they touch. Be sure to handle your turkey correctly to prevent harmful germs from spreading to your food, family, and friends.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after handling turkey.
  • Use a separate cutting board for raw turkey.
  • Never place cooked food or fresh produce on a plate, cutting board, or other surface that held raw turkey.
  • Wash cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing raw turkey and before you prepare the next item.

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4. Cook food thoroughly

Meat, chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs can carry germs that cause food poisoning. Use a food thermometer to ensure these foods have been cooked to a safe internal temperature.

5. Keep food out of the “danger zone”

Bacteria can grow rapidly in the danger zone between 40 degrees and 140 degrees. After food is prepared, keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Refrigerate or freeze any perishable food within 2 hours. The temperature in your refrigerator should be set at or below 40 degrees and the freezer at or below 0 degrees.

6. Wash your hands

Wash your hands with soap and water during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food.
  • Before eating food.
  • After handling pet food or pet treats or touching pets.
  • After using the toilet.
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet.
  • After touching garbage.
  • Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

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7. Do not eat raw dough or batter

Dough and batter made with flour or eggs can contain harmful germs, such as E. coli and salmonella. Do not taste or eat raw dough or batter that is meant to be baked or cooked. This includes dough or batter for cookies, cakes, pies, biscuits, pancakes, tortillas, pizza, or crafts.

8. Use pasteurized eggs for dishes containing raw eggs

Salmonella and other harmful germs can live on both the outside and inside of normal-looking eggs. Many holiday favorites contain raw eggs, including eggnog, tiramisu, hollandaise sauce, and Caesar dressing. Always use pasteurized eggs when making these and other foods made with raw eggs.

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9. Take care of leftovers

Refrigerate leftovers at 40 degrees or colder within 2 hours of cooking to prevent food poisoning. Slice or divide big cuts of meat, such as a roast turkey, into small quantities for refrigeration so they can cool quickly. Reheat all leftovers to at least 165°F before serving. Always refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours, or 1 hour if exposed to temperatures above 90 degrees.

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Katlyn Brieskorn,

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.