Holiday Food Preparation Safety Reminders;

Modified: November 21, 2016 12:16pm

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 From the Office of the Commissioner of Health, Dr. Gale R. Burstein

 Date November 21, 2016                           

CONTACT: Mary C. St. Mary/Mary.StMary@Erie.Gov

Phone: 716.858.4941/ Mobile: 716.253.3925

 Holiday Food Preparation Safety Reminders

Don’t be a Turkey when it comes to Food Safety!

ERIE COUNTY, NY— Whether you're a seasoned chef or a novice preparing your first holiday meal, the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) encourages you to use the safest methods to thaw, prepare, stuff, and cook your turkey.label

“It is essential that thawing turkeys are kept at a safe temperature. Foodborne bacteria can multiply rapidly between 40°F and 140°F. A frozen turkey may be safe indefinitely, but as soon as it begins to thaw, bacteria that may have been present before its freezing can begin to grow again.” states Dr. Gale Burstein, Erie County Commissioner of Health.  “Turkeys can be safely thawed one of three ways: in a refrigerator, in cold water that is changed every 30 minutes, or in a microwave oven.”

“After working with raw poultry, always wash your hands, utensils, and work surfaces thoroughly before touching other foods.” continues Dr. Burstein.  “It is essential that your turkey reaches an internal minimum temperature of 165°F. Stuffing inside a turkey should also be cooked to at least 165°F. To ensure safety of all the foods in your Thanksgiving dinner, keep the hot foods hot and the cold foods cold.Cleanliness is integral in proper preparation. Bacteria on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces during your holiday dinner preparation. If these areas are not cleaned thoroughly before working with other foods, bacteria from the raw poultry can contaminate other foods. Poultry may contain harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria, and Campylobacter that can cause infectious diarrhea and more serious complications.infographic

Refrigerate leftovers within two hours of preparation. Leaving food at room temperature too long is one of the biggest holiday food safety mistakes. Food sitting out for more than two hours in the danger zone -- above 40 degrees and below 140 degrees – leads to risk for bacterial growth. Store leftovers in 2-inch deep, shallow containers for efficient cooling. Make sure the refrigerator is not over-packed, thereby allowing plenty of air to circulate.

When reheating leftovers, ensure they reach a temperature of 165°F. Reheating a plate of food in the microwave for a few minutes may seem safe enough. However, a thermometer should be used to ensure all the food on the plate is reheated sufficiently to kill any bacteria. Since microwaves heat in an uneven manner and vary in power levels, let reheated and covered food sit covered for another one to two minutes to allow the heat to further penetrate the food and destroy bacteria that may have been present. photo

For detailed instructions and additional advice on safely preparing holiday meals, residents are encourage to access numerous informative websites on the internet as well as turkey manufacturers’ toll-free numbers.

For more information

Erie County Department of Health – Food Safety & Security

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - It's Turkey Time: Safely Prepare Your Holiday Meal

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – Turkey Basics at

United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service - Let's Talk Turkey – A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey  

Western New York Frozen & Refrigerated Food Association – Food Preparation Tips

New York State Department of Health—Food Safety Information for Consumers

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Phone: (716) 858-7690

Fax: (716) 858-8701

Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH)
95 Franklin Street
Buffalo, New York 14202

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