Commissioner Charles H. Bronson today reminded state residents to follow a
few food safety tips to avoid turning a holiday celebration into a case of
"Everybody enjoys holiday meals, and with a little care, nothing will mar
the pleasure of the celebration," Bronson said. "But food safety measures
are particularly important, especially with the variety of foods being
served and the number of helpers in the kitchen."
An estimated 76 million people contract food-borne illness in the United
States each year, and about 5,000 such cases are fatal. Young children,
pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are
the most vulnerable for contracting such illness.
Before you cook, make sure to:
-- Clean and sanitize cooking equipment.
-- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before beginning to
prepare the food.
-- Keep raw foods away from cooked foods to avoid cross-contamination, and
make sure that raw meat juices never come in contact with salads and
-- Defrost the turkey in the refrigerator, or if time is short, it can be
defrosted under cold running water in a matter of hours. But never defrost
the bird at room temperature as bacteria can rapidly grow on raw meat at
State and federal food safety officials stress that the turkey should be
cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees, and a food
thermometer should be used to verify the temperature. While many people
cook stuffing inside the bird, officials suggest that it be cooked in a
separate pan because there is no guarantee that the stuffing will reach 165
degrees at the same time as the turkey.
Leftovers should be refrigerated promptly and should sit out no more than
two hours after coming out of the oven.