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Food Safety Tips

There are 76 million cases of food borne illness every year but there are some simple steps you can take to keep you and your family safe:

  • Clean hands: Wash hands often when handling food.
  • No cross contamination: Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat foods separate.
  • Proper temperature: Cook and store foods to proper temperatures.

Clean Hands

  • Use warm soapy water and wash front and back, up to your wrists and under your nails for 20 seconds; then rinse thoroughly.
  • Effective hand washing may eliminate nearly half of all cases of food-borne illness.
  • Wash hands after handling raw foods and when you switch food preparation tasks. Also wash hands after you cough, sneeze or touch other than the food.

No Cross Contamination 

  • Cross contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards and surfaces when handling raw meat and poultry.
  • Keep raw meats and ready to eat foods separate.
  • Place raw meat in containers or plastic to keep raw juices from contaminating other foods.
  • Always clean cutting boards, and if possible, use separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry and fresh produce.
  • Never put cooked food back on the same plate that held raw food.

Proper Temperatures

  • If you are using a frozen turkey, allow adequate time to defrost. If you forget, submerge the turkey in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. Cook immediately after thawing.
  • Make sure you cook the turkey to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees (measuring it at the thickest part of the bird). Be extra cautious of a stuffed turkey; make sure the stuffing reaches 165 degrees. Use a thermometer to measure the temperatures.
  • When refrigerating and storing leftovers, cut them into small pieces and refrigerate within two hours of cooking. Use the leftover turkey and stuffing within three to four days or freeze it.
  • Make sure when you reheat use a thermometer, and heat to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees.
  • If you are getting food from a store or having it delivered, hot food should be kept at 140 degrees or above and eaten within two hours. Keep cold food below 40 degrees.
  • If you travel with food to another person’s home, pay attention to how much time passes from the minute you leave your house and take the food from the refrigerator or oven. If it will be more than two hours, keep your cold dish in a cooler and your hot dish in an insulated bag. 

Learn more about food poisoning, it’s causes, prevention and treatment.


  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration
    1-888-SAFEFOOD: For questions about safe handling of the many foods that go into a delicious holiday meal, including eggs, dairy, fresh produce and seafood.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854). M-F, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. EST
  • USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services


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