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Practice safe food prep during the holidays

The holidays are here, and it's that time of year to spend a lot of time in the kitchen making food for loved ones. To prevent food poisoning (Salmonella or another food-borne illness); please keep the following food-handling tips in mind. 

HANDS: Wash hands thoroughly before preparing the big meal.  Use soap and warm water, then dry hands with a clean towel. Wash hands each time a potential contamination has occurred, such as handling raw turkey.

KITCHEN SURFACES: After handling raw turkey or raw meats, wash kitchen surfaces such as counters, sinks, faucets and cutting boards.  Those foods can carry disease-causing bacteria and other germs so just assume that any surface touched by them is contaminated. Wash potentially contaminated surfaces with hot soapy water, then rinse.  Cleaning contaminated surfaces is where most bacteria and microorganisms get washed away but sanitizing those cleaned surfaces will give an added level of safety.  To sanitize, add a teaspoon of household bleach to a gallon of warm water.  Using a clean towel, dip into the sanitizing solution then wipe down the surfaces you just cleaned. 

COOKING TURKEY: Make sure the turkey gets thoroughly cooked to prevent illness.  Using a probe thermometer, check the thickest part of the turkey to make sure it gets to at least 165 Fahrenheit.  If the turkey has stuffing inside it's a good idea to take the stuffing temperature as well, making sure it also reaches at least 165F.

LEFTOVERS: If food sits out for too long, dangerous bacteria could grow and lead to illness. A good practice for keeping leftovers safe is to chill them quickly; getting the leftover food down to 41F or less within six hours, will slow or stop the growth of bacteria. Make sure to eat the leftovers within a few days or transfer them to the freezer.


Don't prepare food if you are sick, an accurate probe thermometer will read 32F in ice water, don't use the same cutting board or platter for raw and cooked foods without washing thoroughly between uses, for defrosting-allow 24-hours per every five pounds of turkey, defrost raw meats and poultry under refrigeration, never leave food out for longer than two hours, thaw raw meats and poultry on the lowest shelf possible in the refrigerator.

Contact Deschutes County Environmental Health Supervisor Eric Mone at (541) 388-6566 for more information.

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