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Avoid foodborne illness on Thanksgiving by preparing, cooking and storing food the proper way

Whole Homemade Thanksgiving Turkey with All the Sides

Preparing a Thanksgiving meal is a lot of work, but one misstep could put your guest’s health at risk.

On Thanksgiving the majority of people will bake, roast or deep fry a turkey for their feast.

Not preparing it right could lead to a food-borne illness.

The most common symptoms include upset stomach, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

Southern Seven Community Outreach Coordinator Shawnna Rhine says the first step is thawing your turkey the proper way.

“A lot of people think that you can just sit it out on the counter and defrosted overnight and actually that draws in bacteria.”

In the refrigerator it takes about one day for every four pounds.

To avoid cross contamination, you should clean the surface, utensils, cutting board and anything else raw food touches.

Storing the leftovers is just as important as preparing the food.

Leftovers should be stored in airtight containers two hours after its ready, but there’s a limit on how long to keep it.

“In the refrigerator, about three to four days is the maximum and if you're going to freeze it, there's varying degrees of freezing as far as how long you can freeze an item, generally that's about anywhere from two to six months.”

It’s also recommended to not wash the turkey because the water could splash juices around the kitchen contaminating other dishes.

Benjy Jeffords is a digital media production specialist at WSIU Public Broadcasting located at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
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