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News Flash: Cooking the Turkey May Not Prevent Food Poisoning

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See, the problem is, most turkeys carry a bacteria called Clostridium perfringens - a common cause of food poisoning, said Brashears, director of Texas Tech's International Center for Food Industry Excellence. While cooking turkey to 165 degrees will kill the living C. perfringens, Brashears warned their spores will survive a trip through the oven. And while those spores aren't harmful if eaten, they will return to their vegetative state if warm turkey meat is left too long.

"Even if your turkey is cooked well, you could run into problems if you leave it sitting out all day," Brashears said.

The same is true of stuffing cooked inside a turkey or gravy that has turkey meat in it.

woman holding a turkey Brashears recommends chilling leftovers quickly after a meal is finished.

Cut meat off the bone and store perishables in shallow pans - any deeper than four inches will keep the food from cooling fast enough - to prevent the reemergence of bacteria that can cause food poisoning,

Brashears also advises reheating leftover turkey to 165 degrees and bringing gravy to a boil.

"You want to avoid keeping food in what I call the temperature danger zone," she said. "Either keep it cold or keep it hot."

Here are a few other tipsto make sure household stomach pains are caused by the football scores and not from leftovers:

Don't cross-contaminate

Some of the biggest health threats in the kitchen are also among the most ubiquitous:  cutting boards, sponges rags and the counter.

Be sure to wash surfaces including counters and cutting boards with soap or sanitizers before preparing foods you plan to serve without cooking.

Wipe down counters and utensils but keep in mind: sponges and dishrags work great for cleaning ... unless they're covered in germs. Dirty sponges and rags cab actual spread bacteria and cause food poisoning.

Toss dirty towels in the laundry pile once they've been used to wipe up after raw meat. Disinfect or throw away sponges that have been used to clean up contimnated surfaces.

Put cookie dough and eggnog out to Pasteur

As any kid will attest, licking from the bowl is half the fun of making cookies. Yet the cookie dough on your finger could befull of bacteria. Eggnog in your cup can also be full of bacteria that can cause food poisoning. While dough and eggnog bought ready-made at the store should be safe, Brashears said shoppers should be sure to purchase pasteurized eggs to use in their homemade recipes.  Any egg nog dairy products left out should always be thrown away since it can be a breeding ground fo=r bacteria that can causefood poisoning.

Be safe and be well

Following these food safety principles can help you enjoy your holiday meal without risking food poisoning.

Last modified on Sunday, 07 October 2012 23:51
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