Morgan County Health Department Shares Tips for a Safe Thanksgiving Dinner

By Jeremy Coumbes on November 26, 2019 at 6:30pm

The Morgan County Heath Department is reminding everyone to enjoy the upcoming holiday season, but be safe to ensure everyone has a happy and healthy holiday.

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, the Morgan County Health Department is letting the public know that a couple of changes in suggested cooking procedures might make a difference in cooking your turkey this year.

Linda Day, with the health department, says that there is a new standard for when the turkey is ready.

When cooking the turkey, we need to make sue it is totally done. We are now eing told that make sure it is at least 165 degrees. It used to be that we would tell you it needed to hold that temperature for at least 15 seconds, but now they are actually telling us that as long as it is 165 degrees, it is done and ready to eat.”

Day says to make sure your turkey is well thawed, and make sure you don’t forget to remove the internal bag of gizzards and other assorted parts before prepping and cooking the turkey.

Day says that you need to pay attention to where you check the temperature of the bird as well.

You want to make sure that you insert the thermometer in the thickest part of that turkey. You don’t want to put it in, say next to the wing, because that is going to be the thinner part and it is going to cook up a little faster. So make sure you put it in the thickest part.”

Day said that the health department used to recommend not leaving food out longer than two hours, but updated guidelines say that the turkey can be left out up to four hours without fear of bacteria growth, but any longer than four hours means it will have to be thrown away.

When it comes to things like potato salad, Day says that people are usually worried about the mayonnaise causing it to spoil quickly if left out of the refrigerator, but in reality it is the eggs and the potatoes that causes more issue. Day says the health department recommends not leaving side dishes like potato salad out for more than two hours, but it can still be safe up to four hours, but no more.

Any cooked food, once you cook a food, you want to put it in the refrigerator as soon as possible. Once you do that, it slows that bacterial growth and you don’t have to worry about someone getting sick. But the longer it sits out, the more bacteria will grow in that food, and then your chance of someone getting a food borne illness would be greater.”

Day said that how people address cleaning both during and after meal preparation makes a big difference in making sure no one gets sick.

Well you want to clean your surfaces with a little soap and water. And then we recommend making a little bleach water. Take your household bleach, and in a small container use between a teaspoon to a tablespoon of bleach in that warm water, and then just wipe down the counter top, those sink areas with that bleach water and that is going to kill bacteria. And we always recommend to wash your hands when you are handling that raw turkey, and then wash your hands after handling that turkey, and make sure everything is wiped down and sanitized.”

Day says the heath department also reminds you to not use the utensils you ate with when you are going back to dig in to the dishes for seconds, and if properly stored in the refrigerator, the turkey will last safely up to seven days.