In the chaos of Thanksgiving cooking, food can be left out, and hands may not be washed. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says those are some of the most common causes of foodborne illnesses.
Officials recommend following these guidelines:
- Do not thaw foods at room temperature (yes, even the turkey). All food should be thawed in the refrigerator. Plan ahead! A turkey can take three to six days to thaw.
- Turkey and stuffing should be cooked to 165 degrees and ham to 145 degrees. All recipes with eggs need to be cooked to at least 155 degrees.
- Leftovers should not be left out to cool to room temperature. Once everyone is done eating, put anything containing meat, dairy, eggs, fish or poultry in the refrigerator.
- To avoid cross-contamination, thoroughly clean and sanitize knives, cutting boards, kitchen utensils and kitchen counters.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water before preparing food and after handling raw meat, eggs, fish or poultry. However, there is no maximum number of times you should wash your hands!
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment following these rules when cooking ensures that holiday food will be safe and enjoyable.