It’s Thanksgiving in a few weeks and you are probably bracing yourself now for the big meals – and leftovers – that the holiday brings. Thanksgiving is a holiday that revolves around good food — a lot of good food, that is. In fact, about 46 million turkeys are cooked and about 50 million pumpkin pies are eaten at Thanksgiving dinner each year. A full Thanksgiving meal could total up to 3,000 calories, and you can consume up to 229 grams of fat out of it. But overeating is just one thing to watch out for during Turkey Day, as food poisoning is very common during the Thanksgiving festivities, as well.
As you set your thanksgiving menu and search for creative Thanksgiving recipes, make sure that you are aware of the safety precautions and practices in preparing, cooking, and storing food.
- Make it a habit to wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling food – after touching raw meat, raw eggs, or unwashed vegetables, and before eating and drinking.
- Carefully read the labels. It is crucial to monitor the temperature in keeping food, especially the turkey, fresh. If you want to serve a fresh turkey, make sure to purchase one two days before Thanksgiving.
- Thaw the turkey properly and safely. Do not leave the turkey on the counter. The safe way to thaw the turkey is putting it in the refrigerator, putting it in a sink of cold water, which is replaced every 30 minutes; or in the microwave.
- Separate the raw turkey from all the other foods at all times.
- Do not wash the turkey, as this will only spread the pathogens onto kitchen surfaces.
- Do not eat dough or batter as flour and eggs may contain germs such as E coli and salmonella.
- Cooking the turkey thoroughly is the only way to kill the bacteria. Cook the turkey until the internal temperature reaches 165 °F and you can check this by inserting a thermometer into the center of the stuffing, and on the thickest portion of the breast, thigh, and wing joint.
- Let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before removing the stuffing and carving it.
- Keep in mind the two-hour rule: refrigerate, freeze, or thoroughly reheat foods that have been sitting at room temperature for a maximum of two hours. Discard leftovers that have been sitting for longer than that.
- Store leftover foods in smaller portions – this way, they chill more quickly and evenly. This will also let you take out only as much as you need each time.
Do not get carried away with the festivities; be aware of the steps you take in preparing your Thanksgiving dishes. From the time you go shopping, make sure that the products you purchase are safe and are properly labeled and packaged. Also be wary of recalled products that still sit on shelves. If a product does not have a list of ingredients, nutritional values, and proper warnings and labels, do not purchase them.
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