The CDC Warns Turkeys Could Still Be Contaminated with Salmonella—Here's How to Avoid Sickening Your Thanksgiving Guests
Did you know 1 in 4 Americans gets food poisoning from a holiday meal, and 1 in 3 Americans is concerned about getting food poisoning due to someone else's poor kitchen hygiene? A new survey from Water Quality & Health Council found Americans engage in some *seriously* unsanitary kitchen practices, and if you're hosting Thanksgiving—even if you're a Turkey Day vet—it's crucial to take all precautions when it comes to food safety. It's especially important this year, as last November's string of turkey recalls could still be impacting the birds on grocery store shelves today.
The CDC released a new report this week urging the public to practice proper food handling techniques when preparing a Thanksgiving turkey, as the 2018 Salmonella outbreak that infected more than 350 people across 42 states and Washington, D.C. could still be rampant across the turkey industry.
A CDC spokesperson told New Food Economy that related salmonella cases have been reported as early as late October of this year, which means it is of the utmost importance to prepare and cook your turkey properly, since there are likely still some contaminated turkey products out there.
Here are the CDC's top tips for preventing food poisoning from your turkey this year:
- Practice safe thawing methods—either in a container stored in the fridge, in a leak-proof plastic bag in a sink filled with cold water or in a microwave oven following the manufacturer's instructions.
- Keep your turkey separate from other foods and keep food surfaces clean to prevent the spread of bacteria.
- Cook your turkey to 165 degrees, measured on a food thermometer inserted into the thicket portions of the breast, thigh and wing joint.
Additionally, it's important to never wash your turkey before handling—a mistake 62% of Americans report making—and always wash your hands throughout food preparation. Both of these minor habits could make a huge impact on the spread of foodborne illness in your holiday feast.
Related: 10 Commandments of Food Safety
Vegetarians and vegans, you aren't off the hook for this, either! The Water Quality & Health Control survey also found 21% of Americans do not wash or sanitize their cutting boards after handling raw fruits and vegetables. Fresh produce is actually the most widely recalled food in our country—namely romaine lettuce—and cross-contamination from fruits and veggies could also harm you and your guests this Thanksgiving.
"Most recipes are written in a way that assumes that home cooks know how to safely handle raw products, including produce, poultry, fish and meat—but research has proven that many aren't savvy about food safety. That's what led us to launch the Plate It Safe campaign for this holiday season," said Linda F. Golodner, president emeritus of the National Consumers League and vice chair of the Water Quality & Health Council.
Whether you're new to cooking or have been doing it for years, it would be wise to brush up on your food safety skills before whipping up a holiday feast or two this year. The Plate It Safe campaign has some great resources, along with FoodSafety.gov and the USDA. We're wishing you a safe, healthy and delicious Thanksgiving!