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Food safety tips for Thanksgiving via Health Canada

Many Canadians serve poultry (turkey, chicken and duck) at Thanksgiving. If poultry isn’t properly prepared, cooked or stored, you and your family could be at risk of getting food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness).

Symptoms of food poisoning include diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps. There are approximately 4 million cases of food poisoning in Canada every year. Many of these cases could be prevented by following proper food handling and preparation techniques.

Cooking poultry to the proper internal temperature kills harmful bacteria in the food, but it doesn’t help control bacteria that may have been spread around your kitchen while the food was being prepared.

Follow these safety tips to help protect you and your family:

Clean:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw poultry.
  • Clean and sanitize the sink, as well as all surfaces and utensils that have come into contact with raw poultry or its juices to avoid cross-contamination.
  • You can either use commercially available cleaners or make your own cleaning spray by mixing 5 ml (1 teaspoon) of household bleach with 750 ml (3 cups) of water.

Separate:

  • Store poultry in a leak-proof bag or container in the refrigerator or freezer immediately after you buy it.
  • Thaw poultry in the refrigerator or in cold water. If you thaw poultry in cold water, keep it in its original packaging and change the water regularly. Thawing poultry at room temperature is not recommended.
  • Do not rinse poultry before cooking it. This can spread bacteria throughout your kitchen, wherever the water splashes.

Cook:

  • Cook whole poultry until the temperature of the thickest part of the breast or thigh is at least 82ºC (180ºF). Cook poultry pieces to a minimum internal temperature of 74ºC (165ºF). Use a digital food thermometer.
  • Cook stuffing separately in its own dish or on the stove top. If you do stuff your turkey, stuff it loosely just before roasting and remove all stuffing immediately after you remove it from the oven. Cook stuffing to a minimum internal temperature of 74ºC (165ºF).

Chill:

  • Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of cooking. Foods like fully cooked poultry and potatoes can be eaten cold, but if you are reheating leftovers, heat them to 74ºC (165ºF) or warmer. Gravy should be reheated to a full boil.
  • You can safely re-freeze poultry that has not been fully defrosted if the meat is still cold and ice crystals are present.

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Source: Media Release / Health Canada

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