December 07, 2021
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Commissioner Fried Shares Food Safety Tips Ahead of Thanksgiving / 2021 Press Releases / Press Releases / News & Events / Home

Tallahassee, Fla. —  As the holidays approach, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Division of Food Safety are offering food safety tips for your Thanksgiving meal that can reduce common causes of foodborne illnesses. 

“Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to celebrate with friends and family and to give thanks for all the blessings of the past year. With that in mind, it’s important that you and your family are taking the precautionary steps to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses so we can all enjoy the holidays,” Commissioner Fried said.

“As we prepare to celebrate another holiday season in this unique time, FDACS is focused on ensuring the foods you buy at your local food establishments are safe and handled in a sanitary manner,” stated Dr. Matthew Curran, Director of the FDACS Division of Food Safety. “Food is often involved in celebrations throughout the holiday season, but improper handling can lead to a foodborne illness that can put a damper on your festivities. We encourage everyone to observe safe and sanitary food handling practices so you and your families can have the happiest of holidays!”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), here are six tips for safer food and avoiding foodborne illness:

Keep Clean: Wash your hands after using the bathroom and before and after handling food, and wash and sanitize all surfaces used for food preparation. This can control the spread of germs, especially before and after touching raw meat and poultry.

Thawing Turkey: Do not thaw your turkey on the kitchen counter, in hot water, or leave it out at room temperature for more than two hours. The best method to thaw the turkey is in the refrigerator since this allows slow, safe thawing. When thawing the turkey in the refrigerator, allow about 24 hours for every five pounds of turkey. Once thawed, it can remain safe in the fridge for one to two days.

Avoid Cross-Contamination: Keep raw meat, seafood, and poultry separate from other foods. Do not wash your turkey, but if you decide to, be sure to clean and sanitize your sink afterward. Cleaning and sanitizing is a two-step process. To clean, rub down surfaces — including the sink, cutting boards, and countertops — with soap and hot water, and then sanitize them with a cleaning solution to remove any residual germs you cannot see.

Cook Thoroughly: A whole turkey is cooked thoroughly when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit as measured by a food thermometer in three parts: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the wing, and the innermost part of the thigh. Even if the turkey has a pop-up temperature indicator, you should still use a food thermometer to check that the bird has reached at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit in those three places. All previously cooked side dishes should be reheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit as measured by a food thermometer as well.

Keep Food at Safe Temperatures: Don’t leave cooked food at room temperature longer than two hours. Refrigerate all cooked and perishable foods within two hours of when they finished cooking to ensure food stays safe to eat through the weekend.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers: Store leftovers in small, shallow containers in the refrigerator until the Monday after Thanksgiving Day or in the freezer for later use. Shallow containers help cool leftovers more quickly than storing them in large containers. Reheat leftovers to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the internal temperature of the food in several places with a food thermometer after allowing a resting time.

Background: The FDACS Division of Food Safety is responsible for assuring Floridians of safe, wholesome foods by inspecting, permitting, and testing food products sold or produced in Florida. The division monitors food from farm through processing, and distribution through retail sale to consumers, and enforces food safety laws. The division also issues permits for all food businesses in Florida selling directly to customers, such as supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, coffee shops, bakeries, meat and seafood markets, juice and smoothie bars, ice and water vending machines, and more.

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