As Newfoundlanders and Labradorians gather this weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving, the Department of Health and Community Services encourages everyone to keep food safety top of mind when preparing the turkey feast.
Food-related illnesses may be caused by eating things that are contaminated by bacteria, such as Salmonella. Contaminated food can lead to stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dehydration – and can also cause more serious complications among infants and the elderly.
Cook food to recommended internal temperatures of 82°C (180°F) for whole birds and 74°C (165°F) for pieces. Checking with a thermometer is the best way to kill any bacteria that may be contained in the food itself. However, this precaution does not help control bacteria that could have spread to your refrigerator, countertops or utensils, while the food was being stored or prepared.
Follow the Government of Canada’s Poultry Safety Tips for safe shopping, chilling, cleaning, thawing and cooking, to help prevent food-related illnesses from occurring over the holidays.
When preparing poultry, bacteria can spread to other foods, surfaces or people. Follow these simple rules to avoid getting sick:
- Never rinse poultry before cooking it because the bacteria can spread wherever the water splashes;
- Always wash your hands before and after you touch raw poultry;
- Wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
- Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available
- Use a separate plate, cutting board and tools during preparation;
- Clean everything with a kitchen cleaner or bleach solution and then rinse with water;
- Kitchen cleaner (follow the instructions on the container)
- Bleach solution (five ml household bleach to 750 ml of water)
- Before and after preparing poultry, clean your:
- Cutting boards
- Kitchen surfaces
- Wipe kitchen surfaces with paper towels or change dishcloths daily to avoid cross-contamination;
- Don’t use sponges as they are harder to keep bacteria-free
- Keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Try to keep your food out of the temperature danger zone, which is between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F). At these temperatures, bacteria can grow quickly and make you sick.
“Thanksgiving brings families and friends together – it’s a holiday I look forward to each year. As you plan your celebrations, please be mindful of the potential health risks that can be associated with improper food preparation. Although most people recover completely from foodborne illnesses, some groups like the elderly and small children are at greater risk of serious health effects. Food poisoning is no joke.”
Minister of Health and Community Services
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Government of Canada Poultry Safety Tips
Health and Community Services