Preparing A Christmas Feast...Safely
By 250 News
Prince George, B.C. - As preparations begin in many kitchens today for what is often the biggest turkey feast of the year, Northern Health is offering some tips for safely handling, preparing, and storing those delectable treats.
Environmental Health Officer, Neelam Parmar, admits most of the advice is common-sense, but says, "When you're preparing for a large group you can kind of overlook a few things sometimes."
So, first off, the turkey. Parmar says it should be thawed in the fridge or under cold running water. "We generally recommend cooking the stuffing outside of the turkey to make sure the stuffing cooks safely and we always recommend using a probe thermometer to check the turkey." She says the probe should go into the thickest part of the bird without touching the bone and should register at least 74-degrees Celsius.
Parmar says a thorough clean-up after the turkey preparation is key to avoiding cross-contamination with your salad and vegetables. "Make sure you wash the surface and utensils with warm, soapy water, then use a dilute bleach solution to sanitize all utensils, cutting boards and kitchen countertops and that will make sure you're killing off any bacteria."
After enjoying your wonderful meal, and before the turkey's tryptophan kicks in and makes you sleepy, the Environmental Health Officer says you need to refrigerate all your leftovers within two hours to minimize any kind of bacteria growth. "Divide the leftovers into shallow containers so they cool quickly and then refrigerate them once the steaming stops," says Parmar. "And leave the lid off or wrap it loosely until the food is cooled to the fridge temperature." Your turkey, stuffing, and gravy should all be stored in seperate containers.
Parmar says it's tough to track the number of people in the Northern Health region who develop any food-borne illnesses as a result of improperly prepared food. But says, "Generally speaking, we probably do sometimes see an increase around the holidy season of reported food-borne illnesses, so we try our best to get the information out to the public to prevent it from happening.
More information is available on Northern Health's public health protection page on food safety, click here to for link.
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