Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tips to have a safe, happy Thanksgiving holiday Read more: Point Pleasant (WV) Register - Tips to have a safe happy Thanksgiving holiday

Mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and of course, turkey, will be the spread for many residents’ Thanksgiving feasts on Thursday.

Although Thanksgiving is a day to spend in fellowship with family and to give thanks, several safety precautions must be considered in order to have a happy holiday. According to the West Virginia Region II Public Health Departments, while the U.S. food supply is one of the safest in the world, approximately 76 million people get sick from food-borne illness every year, and food safety can be an even bigger challenge during the holidays.

Along with the holidays taking place during cold and flu season, traditional festive meals may include more dishes than room allows in the refrigerator or oven. In addition, holiday guest lists often include those who are more susceptible to food-borne illnesses — the elderly, children and pregnant women. In order to prevent food-borne illnesses this Thanksgiving, make sure that all food is cooked to the proper temperature by using a thermometer. According to the West Virginia Region II Public Health Departments newsletter, turkey, stuffing, side dishes and all leftovers should be cooked to at least 165 degrees and kept above 140 degrees during serving time in order to ensure that potential bacteria is destroyed.

Leftovers also should be refrigerated within two hours of preparation. Leftovers also should be re-heated to 165 degrees. With produce items, be sure to wash every thing, including prepackaged greens — this decreases bacterial contamination. When chopping produce, be sure to use a properly cleaned kitchen counter, sponge, knife and cutting board. As for the turkey, make sure that it is properly defrosted or purchase a fresh one. Frozen turkeys typically need 24 hours per five pounds to defrost in the refrigerator. Turkeys should not be defrosted on the kitchen counter.

As usual, make sure all cooks and guests properly wash their hands before handling food. According to the Mason County Health Department, hand washing helps reduce the risk of influenza.

Those planning to deep fry their turkey, should also take extra caution. Most turkeys are deep fried using oil, which gets very hot. Turkeys should only be deep fried by using a deep fryer that is standing on flat ground. Residents should never deep fry the turkey inside of their homes or on a wooden deck. Deep fryers should never be left unattended, and gloves and safety glasses also should be worn in order to protect the skin and eyes against any oil that could splash out of the fryer.

Read more: Point Pleasant (WV) Register - Tips to have a safe happy Thanksgiving holiday