Is there anything cozier than the smell of a delicious Thanksgiving meal cooking, the warmth of the kitchen making you toasty, and your ears ringing from the whistles of the football games being watched in the next room? Thanksgiving is upon us and we wanted to bring up one important reminder as you cook this holiday feast.
Watch out for salmonella!
The Center for Disease control tracks over 40,000 people per year who get salmonella poisoning. It’s no joke— food poisoning symptoms include fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Here are a ten things to keep in mind while preparing your food to help avoid salmonella.
10 tips to avoid kitchen bacteria this Thanksgiving:
- After you unwrap the raw turkey, immediately discard the packaging. Don’t drop it on the countertop where it could spread bacteria.
- Do not rinse or wash the turkey before cooking. By washing the bird in the sink, you’re likely contaminating the rest of your sink and kitchen.
- Don’t place raw meat directly on the countertop where it will create a puddle of bacteria. Instead, place it on a cutting board dedicated to meat.
- When you’re cutting up vegetables, use a separate cutting board from the one you’re using for meat. Wash cutting boards carefully with hot soapy water between uses and never cut raw vegetables on the meat cutting board.
- If necessary, you should wipe up any meat juices with a paper towel and spray the counter with Red Juice, then wipe clean with another paper towel. We recommend that you do not contaminate a dish cloth, but if you do, throw it immediately in the laundry so that people won’t be exposed to potential bacteria.
- Don’t use a sponge to clean up raw meat juices —germs get trapped in the sponge and will create a breeding ground for bacteria. If you do get raw meat juices in your sponge, rinse in hot soapy water, then microwave the sponge for 60 seconds. Be sure to let the microwaved sponge cool down before grabbing it for use.
- Wash your hands vigorously with warm soapy water for at least 1 minute after handling raw meat. Don’t forget to clean under your fingernails—there might be areas which were completely missed when you washed your hands. The CDC has recommendations on proper hand washing techniques: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry!
- Use hot soapy water to wash any utensils, plates, or platters that touch raw meat before placing the cooked meat back on them.
- Prevent meat drips or spills from contaminating vegetables by storing raw meat on the lower shelf of the refrigerator and storing vegetables on the higher shelves.
- Making stuffing? Experts suggest that cooking the stuffing inside your bird puts you at risk because turkey juices that may contain salmonella bacteria could soak into the stuffing while it cooks. Your best bet is to cook the stuffing separately. You can always add it back into the turkey right before serving.
We hope these tips help you to serve a safe and healthy meal this Thanksgiving. When in doubt, keep washing your hands!