QUAD CITIES (KWQC) - According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in six Americans suffer from at least one foodborne illness annually. It’s especially dangerous for younger and older people who have a compromised immune system. That risk increases during the holiday season when people are cooking for more people then they’re used to.
Janet Hill, from the Rock Island County Public Health Department shared several important tips with TV6 to keep everyone safe.
The main guest on your table is also one of the main foods people get sick from. We’re talking about the turkey and there are several tips to keep in mind. While many prepare a raw turkey in their sink, “It is not appropriate to wash a turkey or a chicken or any type of poultry because it can spread bacteria all over your kitchen.” It is important though to wash the sink and surrounding area before and after preparing the turkey. Hill suggests using a gallon of water and one tablespoon of bleach.
Another important point from Hill, “A lot of people go between their smartphone to look at a recipe and then the turkey and then to something else, well you possibly could have contaminated all types of areas.” To avoid any type of contamination, wash your hands often.
Cooking your food to the right temperature is another tip that will keep you and your loved ones healthy. When cooking a turkey, using a thermometer is very helpful. “You need to put that into the thickest part of the meat because it could be done on the outside and not done in the middle and that's a real problem. A lot of people can get sick from that.” Keeping food at a safe temperature is also important. Hill says hot food can only stay out on a table for two hours. After that, it needs to go into a fridge or cooler, but that also comes with a caveat.
“Even if you are in that two-hour window and you get everything into the fridge if you put everything into gigantic containers, it still will not cool quickly enough and it will also bring up the temperature of other things that are in your refrigerator. We suggest putting leftovers in smaller containers that are no more than two inches tall or to put them in an ice bath before putting them into the fridge because they will cool it very quickly.”
Hill says it’s not safe to put a hot pan into a fridge because it will not cool enough. If food is cooked ahead of time, before putting it a fridge, Hill suggests putting it in an ice bath before storing the food in the fridge.
As for the most common mistake made during the holidays, Hill says leaving the food out for too long. “A lot of times families will put out a spread and people will just kind of graze for a while, that's really dangerous.”