The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an update, earlier this month, about a multistate salmonella outbreak linked to raw turkey. With the Thanksgiving holiday right around the corner, Robert Gravani, professor of food science, says this salmonella outbreak is a reminder that proper planning and attention to detail are important for the preparation of a safe and delicious Thanksgiving meal. He recommends following the four steps to food safety – clean, separate, cook and chill – to prevent the spread of bacteria to food and family.
“A recent foodborne outbreak involving salmonella linked to raw turkey products is a reminder that raw turkey must be handled carefully to avoid spreading these bacteria around the kitchen and to ready-to-eat-foods.
“Be sure to thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils with warm, soapy water after they touch raw turkey. Handle raw turkey carefully and cook it thoroughly to have a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner and prevent foodborne illness.
“Clean: Wash your hands and surfaces often. Germs that cause food poisoning can survive in many places and spread around your kitchen. Wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before, during and after preparing food.
“Separate: Don’t cross-contaminate, so separate meats from other foods. Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can spread germs to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate. When grocery shopping, storing in the refrigerator and cooking, keep these items and their juices away from each other and from other foods.
“Cook: Heat to the right temperature. Food is safely cooked when the internal temperature gets high enough to kill germs that can make you sick. The only way to tell if food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer and make sure you know the safe temperature for the type of meat you are preparing. Turkey, like all other poultry, requires a temperature of 165°F.
“Chill: Refrigerate promptly. Bacteria can multiply rapidly if left at room temperature or in the ‘danger zone’ between 40°F and 140°F. Never leave perishable food out for more than 2 hours. Never thaw foods on the counter, because bacteria multiply quickly in the parts of the food that reach room temperature.”