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Nutrition experts share top three Thanksgiving food safety tips

It’s almost time!

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and families and friends will be ready to dive into all of the food!

Nutrition experts at the OU College of Allied Health stress simple tips can help ensure you don’t dish up a tummy ache along with your favorite holiday recipes.

However, there are some simple mistakes though, that can leave some guests feeling sick rather than full and satisfied.

Tip 1: Avoid cross-contamination

  • To avoid contaminating one food with bacteria from another, you need to ensure that different types of food are kept apart, meaning separate cutting boards and different knives for fruit, for vegetables and for meats. If you don’t have three cutting boards, you can use the same one for fruit and vegetables but only with an extra step – washing the cutting board with soap and water, dry it and then cut the fruit.

Brian dela Cruz, M.S., R.D.N./L.D., director of the Dietetic Internship program at the OU College of Allied Health prefers to use three cutting boards of different colors to keep preparation of fruit, vegetables and meats separate.

Tip 2: 165 degrees is the magic number

  • It’s important to cook your turkey to the proper temperature to ensure that any bacteria, like Salmonella, are killed. That requires cooking to an internal temperature of 165°F. To ensure you hit that mark, it’s recommended you use a meat thermometer. Insert it at the thickest part of the bird and when the thermometer hits 165 and holds there for at least four seconds, the bird is ready to eat. Here’s an extra “Pro Tip” – test your meat thermometer before you start cooking. Simply dip the tip into boiling water. Water boils at 212°F. So make sure your thermometer is measuring correctly.

Tip 3: Don’t leave food sitting out

  • It’s easy to want to leave the food out so that guests can make their way back for seconds (and thirds), but that can be a recipe for tummy aches. The food danger zone is from 41°F to 135°F. Food sitting in that “danger zone” for more than four hours can cause bacteria to grow.

A raw turkey may contain bacteria like salmonella. That is why nutrition experts at the OU College of Allied Health warn that it is critical to protect against cross contamination of foods like fruit or vegetables.