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As the holiday season approaches, we busy ourselves with extra tasks including food preparation. None of us would intentionally harm others through improper handling of food—but it happens. Careful attention helps assure safe food. The web site, www.foodsafety.gov, provides guidelines to follow for purchasing, preparing, and serving food. Some guidelines are basic: wash hands often, store foods properly, and pay attention to proper handling and cooking of foods, especially meats.

The “Fight Bac” brochure, www.fightbac.org, explains four steps to food safety:  Clean—wash hands, cutting boards, etc. frequently; Separate—avoid cross-contamination; Cook—use cooking temperature guides; Chill—refrigerate promptly.

The “rule of four” reduces possibilities of food spoilage.

  • Thaw, prepare, cook, and reheat frozen items, within four hours for all procedures.
  • Store cold foods below 40oF.  Keep hot foods above 140oF.
  • Limit the time foods stay in the optimum bacterial growth danger zone (40oF to 140oF). Cool and refrigerate or freeze leftovers within four hours.  
  • Use refrigerated leftover foods and highly perishable foods such as fresh meats within four days.

Also, remember to cook turkeys to an internal temperature of 160oF, fresh hams, 160oF, and precooked hams, 140oF.

Keep family and friends safe this holiday season. Following these above suggestions helps prevent foodborne illness. Enjoy a food-safe Thanksgiving.

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