For many families, home for the holidays means celebrating around the dinner table, and to prevent food poisoning, health officials say take caution in the kitchen.
"We tend to make more mistakes at home because we're in our comfortable environment. We’re using our things and we think that because we're doing it, then it's safe, but really we need to be careful to make sure we're doing good hand washing, cooking things long enough, make sure we're storing properly and make sure everything's nice and clean,” explains Christa Campbell.
Health experts say it's crucial to properly defrost meat. And the best way to defrost a turkey is in the refrigerator allowing 24 hours-per-pound of turkey. And if you don't have that much time, officials say submerge the turkey in water, changing the water every 30 minutes per pound of turkey.
Health experts also advise when the meal is complete don't leave it out for longer than two hours and don't store large.
"As we begin to store them we want to break it down and put them in shallow pans so they can cool quicker and so that we're not putting hot products in the refrigerator and then them not actually being able to cool,” Campbell adds.
Health officials say following simple guidelines for food safety could ensure your holiday feast does not turn into a holiday fiasco.
If you would like more information on safe food handling procedures you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555.
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Safe Turkey Cooking Tips
Turkey Cooking Times
|Weight (pounds)||Unstuffed Cooking Time (hours)||Stuffed Cooking Time (hours)|
|8 to 12||2 3/4 to 3||3 to 3 1/2|
|12 to 14||3 to 3 3/4||3 1/2 to 4|
|14 to 18||3 3/4 to 4 1/4||4 to 4 1/4|
|18 to 20||4 1/4 to 4 1/2||4 1/4 to 4 3/4|
|20 to 24||4 1/2 to 5||4 3/4 to 5 1/4|
Source: http://www.cspinet.org/ (Center for Science in the Public Interest Web site) contributed to this report.