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How to avoid getting food poisoning on or after Thanksgiving: Tips for preparing and storing food


Alina Prikhodko

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Nearly two-thirds of Americans ignore USDA recommendations (USDA) to safely prepare food, putting its guests at risk, according to New York Post. Time spent preparing Thanksgiving dinner will not be wasted if you follow safety guidelines.

According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne pathogens cause illness in approximately one in six Americans each year, with 128 hospitalized and 000 killed.

This is despite the fact that more than 70% of Americans cook almost every day, according to a new survey from CouponBirds—further confirming the many myths about clean cooking.

Should I wash my turkey before cooking?

The survey of 1000 American adults found that more than three in five (62,3%) people always wash meat before cooking, and 4,7% wash it if it looks like it needs it. As for fish and seafood, 65% of respondents always wash them before cooking, and 14% only sometimes or if it seems necessary.

Most people (52,9%) admitted to washing food before cooking to remove any nasty bits, while others wanted to get rid of meat juices (33,9%) or were unsure where they had been before purchasing (27,3%).

Photo: IStock

In this case, most respondents were wrong: According to the USDA, washing raw meat, fish and poultry spreads germs throughout the kitchen as juices end up in the sink, increasing the likelihood of cross-contamination of other foods, utensils and hands.

How often should you wash your hands while preparing food?

One in five people admitted that they only occasionally wash their hands when preparing food. The results showed that men skip this step more often than women, by 5,2%, and 35-44 year olds rarely wash their hands before preparing food (28,5%). But at the same time, 79,5% still wash their hands.

Moreover, more than half of respondents (52%) wash their hands while preparing food. 45,5% wash their hands when necessary, 2,4% only when working with meat and fish, and 0,3% do not wash their hands at all.

The survey found that 89,5% of Thanksgiving cooks cook at least one meat dish, suggesting that about 28,7 million turkeys are at increased risk of infection due to the way they are cooked.

Photo: IStock

To prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of spreading bacteria, the USDA recommends washing your hands before preparing food and after handling raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs, even if you used gloves.

How long can you store Thanksgiving leftovers?

One of the best parts of Thanksgiving is the leftovers, which can be stored for several days. But not too many days, as experts advise. The USDA recommends storing Thanksgiving leftovers in shallow containers in the refrigerator until the following Monday or Tuesday (4 days) or directly in the freezer.

For many, the second helping of Thanksgiving dinner is just as joyful as the first, but don't let the food sit idle for too long. Perishable foods must be refrigerated within two hours after they are removed from the oven or refrigerator. After two hours, perishable food enters the “danger zone” and should be thrown away if left unattended.

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When reheating in the oven, make sure the leftovers reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit (75 Celsius). Sauces, soups and gravies can be reheated by bringing them to a boil.

Microwave processing of leftovers is a little more complicated: the food should be evenly distributed in a microwave-safe dish, covered with a lid and rotated to ensure even heating. You can add liquid if necessary, but it is important to check the internal temperature in several places as microwaves can be cold.

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