Health officials offer tips to keep your Thanksgiving meal safe

OKLAHOMA CITY- Many families are already preparing for Thanksgiving, but health officials hope that a few precautions will keep everyone safe this holiday.

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department says families should follow four simple rules when preparing the big feast.

First, wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap, and make sure to wash all of your utensils and cutting boards. Also, rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water and use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.

Next, make sure to keep raw eggs, meat, seafood and their juices away from foods that won’t be cooked. Consider using one cutting board for foods that will be cooked and another for vegetables and fruits.

Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry and fish are cooked to a safe temp. The turkey is safe when the temperature reaches 165 degrees. If the turkey is stuffed, the stuffing should also be 165 degrees. Cook sauces and gravies to a boil.

Finally, refrigerate foods quickly because harmful bacteria grows rapidly at room temperature. Leftovers and takeout should be refrigerated within two hours, and used within three to four days- which includes the pumpkin pie.