An unwanted Thanksgiving guest: Foodborne Illness

SPRINGFIELD, IL (KFVS) - Avoid spending this holiday season feeling ill because of unwanted guest such as, Salmonella, Listeria or E. coli bacteria.

There are some simple things you can do to avoid foodborne illness.

"Two of the most important things to remember for a safe Thanksgiving feast are to make sure to fully thaw and cook the turkey, and properly wash with soap and warm water your hands, utensils and anything else that comes into contact with raw meats or juices," said Dr. Craig Conover, Illinois Department of Public Health acting director.

According to public health officials, to check the temperature of the turkey, insert a meat thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the thigh, breast or stuffing.  All turkey meat, including any that remains pink, is safe to eat as soon as all parts reach at least 165 degrees F°.  The stuffing should also reach 165 degrees F°, whether it is cooked inside the bird or in a separate dish.

Health officials say it is important to immediately refrigerate leftovers.  If they are left to sit for several hours at room temperature, disease-causing bacteria can grow.  Also, refrigerate stuffing and other leftovers separate from the bird.

When eating leftovers, they either need to be very cold (directly from the refrigerator) or very hot (at least 165 degrees F°).  Refrigerated turkey and stuffing should be used within three to four days and gravy within a day or two.

For more information about safe holiday cooking, log onto IDPH website.

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