Illinois Department of Public Health officials emphasize the importance of food safety
QUINCY (WGEM) -As the holiday season approaches, Illinois Department of Public Health officials are urging the public to prioritize food safety to ensure a healthy and enjoyable celebration. With Thanksgiving just days away, proper hygiene, cooking temperatures and storage practices are essential to prevent foodborne illnesses.
Before diving into holiday meal preparations, IDPH officials stress the significance of maintaining proper hygiene. Washing hands thoroughly and ensuring clean cooking surfaces are crucial steps to prevent the spread of bacteria.
When it comes to preparing the centerpiece of many holiday feasts – poultry, experts recommend cooking it to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This ensures that harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, are eliminated, guaranteeing a safe and delicious meal for all.
Chill out with leftovers
After the festivities, experts advise promptly refrigerating leftovers and keeping them below 41 degrees Fahrenheit. This prevents the rapid growth of bacteria, safeguarding the health of those enjoying the delicious post-holiday meals.
Heating and thawing wisdom
IDPH Environmental Health Sanitarian Mitchell Housewright emphasized the importance of proper heating and thawing methods. He advises breaking down large portions of hot foods into smaller ones for efficient cooling before refrigeration. When reheating, ensure the temperature reaches at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill any potential bacteria.
“Bacteria can grow rapidly between 41 and 135 degrees, so in your fridge, you want to make sure it’s below 41 degrees. Also, with storage in your fridge, you want to keep your raw foods and ready-to-eat food separated,” Housewright said.
Avoiding Foodborne Illnesses
Improper food handling can lead to foodborne illnesses, and officials report that over 48 million individuals suffer from such illnesses annually. To prevent this, hand hygiene is critical during meal preparation, cooking food at the recommended temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and storing food below 41 degrees Fahrenheit.
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