October 9, 2009
Media Release

Reduce the risk of food borne illness this Thanksgiving

Simple and easy food safety tips to help keep your friends and family healthy
NEWMARKET …quot; The Regional Municipality of York reminds residents that food-borne illness, also known as “food poisoning,” can occur if improper techniques are used when buying, preparing, serving and storing your Thanksgiving dinner.  Follow these food safety tips to reduce the risk of food-borne illness. 

Buying a turkey
• Check the “best before” date on fresh turkeys to determine the freshness of the turkey
• If buying a frozen turkey, purchase it at least four to six days prior to cooking to allow for sufficient thawing time; thawing time depends on size of turkey
• If buying a fresh turkey, purchase it no more than two days before cooking; it should be cold when bought and immediately refrigerated at home at a temperature of 4°C (40°F) or lower
• At the grocery store, the turkey should be the last item selected before proceeding to the checkout
• Place the turkey in a separate plastic bag to avoid cross-contaminating other food items in the grocery cart; putting your fresh or frozen turkey in a plastic bag will help prevent the juices from leaking out and contaminating your reusable containers and other foods; fresh produce should also always be put in plastic bags to protect them from contamination
Thawing a frozen turkey
• Never thaw a turkey on the kitchen counter
• Place the turkey on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, in a large container or on a platter big enough to prevent leaking juices from contaminating other foods
• Start thawing the turkey in the refrigerator several days before roasting, allowing 24 hours of defrosting time for every 2.5 kg (5 pounds) of turkey (i.e. 5 hours/lb or 10 hours/kg)
• If thawing turkey in the microwave, cook the turkey immediately after thawing is complete

Preparing a turkey
• Thoroughly clean your hands, the counter and all utensils before and after preparing the turkey
• Do not let any juices from the turkey come in contact with other food or food preparation equipment
• Immediately after preparing the turkey, wash and sanitize the sink, kitchen counter, utensils and anything else that came in contact with the turkey
• Sanitize using a mild bleach solution (e.g., 1 tsp./5 ml of household bleach per 4 cups/1 litre water) and rinse with clean water

Cooking a turkey
• Never slow-cook turkey; set the oven at a minimum of 177° C (350°F) and use a probe thermometer to check that the turkey reaches a minimum internal temperature of 82°C (180°F) before serving
• The stuffing should reach a minimum internal temperature of 74°C (165°F) before eating
• For whole turkey: near the end of the cooking time, remove meat from heat and insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast or thigh meat, making sure the thermometer does not touch any bone; if necessary, continue cooking until the proper temperature has been achieved and the food is safe to eat
• Wash the probe thermometer and other utensils you used on raw or partially cooked food items after each use
• Pre-cooked, stuffed turkey which is purchased hot should be stored in the oven to keep the turkey hot, at least 60°C (140°F) or above and consumed within two hours of purchase; if the turkey is to be consumed more than two hours after purchase, the stuffing should be removed and both it and the bird should be refrigerated to 4°C (40°F) or lower as soon as possible after purchase

Serving the turkey
• Serve turkey and stuffing immediately; keep the rest of the turkey and stuffing hot at a minimum temperature of 60°C (140°F) in the oven
• Refill empty platters with hot food from the oven

Turkey leftovers
• Refrigerate leftovers promptly in uncovered, shallow containers so they cool quickly; once food is cooled, cover and refrigerate or freeze
• Remove turkey meat from the bone; once cooled, immediately refrigerate or freeze meat, stuffing and gravy separately
• Re-heat leftovers to 74°C (165°F) or higher; bring gravy to a full, rolling boil and stir during the re-heating process
• Consume leftovers within two days after cooking

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold
• Keep food out of the “danger zone,” which is between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F)
• Keep hot food items hot, at least 60°C (140°F), and keep cold food items cold at 4°C (40°F) or colder

Symptoms for food borne illness include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, headache and fever.  Symptoms can range in severity from mild to more severe.  People who think they are experiencing severe symptoms of food borne illness should seek immediate medical attention.
For more information on safe food handling practices or any other public health program, please contact York Region Health Connection at 1-800-361-5653.
For more information on The Regional Municipality of York, please visit www.york.ca
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Media Contact: Jennifer Mitchell-Emmerson, Community and Health Services, York Region
 Phone:  905 830-4444, ext. 4016 or After-hours Cell:  905 716-9753
 Email: jennifer.mitchellemmerson@york.ca

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