Don't be a turkey about holiday food safety

PHILADELPHIA, PA.; November 21, 2011

And who can resist nibbling on the turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie the day after?

But while it a wonderful time of celebration with family and friends, food experts say it's also a time to be careful of foodborne illness.

Elisabeth Hagen, the Department of Agriculture's Under Secretary for Food Safety, says more than 46 million turkeys will be eaten this holiday, so she's offering tips to help consumers protect themselves and their families while preparing and serving their Thanksgiving meals.

And she suggests a few kitchen essentials: multiple cutting boards, a meat thermometer, a timer, and shallow containers for the leftovers.

To start, Hagen advises that cooks use separate cutting boards for the raw poultry and anything else that's being served.

And whether you're making turkey, beef, or chicken, use the meat thermometer.

Hagen says a turkey should be cooked to 165 degrees and recommends not cooking the stuffing inside the bird. It's much harder to get the meat or the stuffing to the proper temperature.

Once the meal is over, Hagen says don't let leftovers sit out for more than 2 hours.

Put them in shallow containers, so they will get cool to the proper temperature faster.

And don't overload your refrigerator. that makes it harder to keep all of the food at the right temperature. Bacteria can grow quickly, even a few degrees above 40 degrees.

More than 1 in 6 Americans are expected to get a foodborne illness at some time this year.

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