Good refrigerator storage prevents illness

Nov. 20, 2012 at 11:08 PM

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- The National Restaurant Association in Washington advises family chefs managing the refrigerator is key to preventing food-borne illness during Thanksgiving.

Greg Beachey of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation said all cooks must guard against cross contamination of raw poultry drippings -- one in 50 turkeys is estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be contaminated with salmonella -- and a few drops of a dripping turkey on a relish tray or baked dessert can result in illness.

"Whether cooking at home or in a professional foodservice kitchen, basic principles like cleaning and sanitizing, and cooking to proper temperatures should be part of everyone's food safety knowledge base," Beachey said in a statement.

For example:

-- Store raw turkey away from ready-to-eat food. Make sure your raw turkey is covered and stored in a leak-proof container on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. You want to keep it away from foods that are ready to eat, such as desserts and salads, to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.

-- Clean and sanitize your sink and counters. After rinsing your raw turkey thoroughly, properly clean and sanitize the sink and surrounding area before starting to prepare any other food.

-- Cook your turkey to safe internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature of the turkey reaches at least 165 degrees F.

-- Prep salads, cranberries and other cold items first and store them in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Then prep hot dishes closer to serving time so they stay hot. Keep all food items outside the "temperature danger zone" of 41 degrees F to 135 degrees F as much as possible.

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