Food safety tips for before and after your Thanksgiving meal
from the Minnesota Poison Control System
While Thanksgiving is a time for families and friends to gather, express gratitude, and enjoy a meal together, this time of year is also associated with an increased risk of food poisoning. America’s 55 poison centers help manage tens of thousands of cases involving suspected food poisoning each year. This Thanksgiving, the Minnesota Poison Control System (MPCS), encourages Americans to take a few simple food safety precautions to prevent food poisoning and help ensure a delicious and safe Thanksgiving meal.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1 in 6, or 48 million people contract food poisoning each year, with approximately 128,000 of those people being hospitalized and 3,000 dying of illnesses associated with food poisoning. According to Stephen T. Kaminski, JD, AAPCC CEO and Executive Director, “the good news is that food poisoning is largely preventable. By taking a few simple food safety precautions, you can avoid offering food poisoning a seat at your Thanksgiving table. And remember, if you do suspect food poisoning, expert help is a quick, free call away at 1-800-222-1222.”
Symptoms of food poisoning usually appear within hours of eating
contaminated food, and often include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, and diarrhea. Food poisoning symptoms can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. While most food poisoning cases are mild and resolve without medical care, some episodes can be more severe and require expert treatment advice. “Pregnant women, young children, and those with vulnerable immune systems should be especially cautious during the holiday season. By saving the Poison Help phone number into a mobile telephone, anyone can be prepared in the event of a poisoning emergency,” said Kaminski.
The MPCS offers the following simple food safety tips for preparing and enjoying your holiday meals:
- Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from all other foods in your grocery bags, in the refrigerator, and while prepping.
- Wash your hands, kitchen surfaces, utensils, and cutting boards frequently, especially after handling or preparing uncooked food and before touching or eating other foods. Wash produce but not eggs, meat, or poultry, which can spread harmful bacteria.
- Use the microwave, cold water, or the refrigerator method to defrost your frozen meat or poultry. Do not thaw or marinate these items on the counter, and be sure to cook them immediately after thawing.
- The bacteria that cause food poisoning multiply quickest in the ‘Danger Zone,’ which is between 40˚ and 140˚ Fahrenheit. In general, it’s best to keep hot food hot, and cold food cold.
- Use a food thermometer to check if meat is fully cooked and heated high enough to kill harmful bacteria. Cook turkey until it reaches 165° F.
- The safest way to cook stuffing is outside of the turkey in a casserole dish. However, if you choose to cook stuffing inside the turkey, stuff the turkey just before cooking, and use a food thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Remove the stuffing immediately after the turkey is finished cooking and place in a separate serving dish.
- Refrigerate leftovers promptly – within two hours – at 40° F or below to help reduce the risk of bacterial growth.
- Prevent cross-contamination by completely and securely covering foods in the refrigerator.
- Consume or freeze leftovers within 3-4 days.
The Minnesota Poison Control System is available to provide expert, free, and confidential information and treatment advice 24-hours per day, seven days a week, year-round, including holidays. If you have any questions about safe food preparation, or if you or someone you know suspects food poisoning, call the Poison Help line at 1(800) 222-1222.
For more information, the media may contact Kirk Hughes, Education
Director at 612-873-5644 or Deb Anderson, Managing Director at 612-873-2107.