To help prevent food poisoning this Thanksgiving, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has provided the community with tips on how to prepare dinner safely and avoid illness.
“You can help prevent foodborne illness (or food poisoning) by following simple food handling tips, such as handwashing and cooking turkey, other meats and eggs to appropriate temperatures,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the county Public Health Department.
Symptoms of food poisoning include: stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. For healthy people, these symptoms are temporary and do not pose a threat to the individual; however, for vulnerable individuals such as infants and the elderly, it could be severe and even life-threatening, the news release says.
Cleaning, separating, cooking and chilling are the four easy steps the community can take to prevent food poisoning this Thanksgiving, the county release says.
First, be sure to wash your hands and surfaces often. Use warm soapy water to thoroughly cleanse your hands and cutting boards. This will help prevent the spread of germs in the kitchen. Second, do not cross contaminate. Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in the kitchen. If a cutting board has come in contact with raw meat, clean it before you use it again.
Third, make sure you are cooking at proper temperatures. For example, turkey should be cooked to 165 degrees, according to the county. Last, remember to refrigerate properly. Refrigerate leftovers within the first two hours, and throw out food that has been left out for longer.
“As family and friends gather together, it’s important to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our guests by preparing foods safely,” said Ferrer.
For more information on safe cooking, visit the USDA website at: www.usda.gov or call their toll-free Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.