As families and friends gather around the table to stuff their faces with stuffing, casseroles, sweet potatoes, pies and other family recipes, the biggest dish on the table may be the most dangerous, if proper precautions aren’t taken.
Cooking the turkey at the proper temperature, keeping cooking hands clean and being cautious of sanitizing utensils, are a few of the recommendations Lincoln County Cooperative Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences Melinda Houser suggests this year.
Houser cited food-borne illnesses such as salmonella to be linked to consumption of meals served during the holiday season, possibly because of the chef’s lack of taking extra precautions when cooking for a larger crowd than normal. This includes sanitizing and deep-cleaning both tools used to prepare the raw meats and the surfaces the turkey or ham touched.
Often overlooked, but keep in mind:
Now comes the fun part — leftovers.
Saving what’s left of the Thanksgiving feast can sometimes be the best part of the eating experience — having lunch and dinner options for days, sometimes weeks. However, as with the risks of preparing the meal, certain steps should be taken to ensure the meat is still safe to eat.
Just because it’s cooked, doesn’t mean it’s completely safe.
Refrigerate leftover turkey within two hours of taking it out of the oven, Houser said. Turkey should be cooled to 41 degrees quickly, which is best accomplished by putting the sliced up leftover turkey in a one-quart resealable bag and laying it flat in the refrigerator.
For questions on how to prepare safe holiday foods, call (704) 736-8461.